June 6, 2009
It is a privilege to be here with you this afternoon; graduation is a special day.
I’ve been to several, and I remember the first two – my older brother’s – particularly well.
At the first, the speakers went on too long, so I will be brief. At the second – which is memorialized in a family photo – we were very happy and truly proud of him.
I see that same pride and happiness in your faces now, today. This is a momentous occasion; you are entering the world and becoming Anteater alums!
We are pleased to have several prominent Anteater alumni here today, including at least three members of our alumni board. We appreciate their presence, and thank them for their service. We hope all of you will become active alumni as well, and stay connected with UC Irvine throughout your lives.
You are entering the world at an unusual time – a time of challenge and uncertainty; a time when we need each other’s support more than ever.
Paradoxically, and unfortunately, we all-too-frequently behave in just the opposite fashion. I noticed this recently: The spirited political discussions and dialogs that occur regularly on campus have become more tense, and the e-mails we receive in response to them have become more harsh. Just last month, I received reports of purportedly political discussions on campus that had taken a decidedly hateful turn. I was personally offended by the nature of the message, and even more offended that the message was created to be hateful, which – echoing a sentiment offered recently in Cairo by President Obama – is counterproductive at best, and in many cases harmful.
We believe in and protect constitutional freedoms, but we know that there is a better way, a higher road, and we encourage our students and guests to take that path. Our values – respect, intellectual curiosity, integrity, commitment, empathy, appreciation and fun – point the way to success. We cannot mandate that everyone adhere to these values, but we do all we can to encourage them.
I encourage each and every one of you to set your own values and follow them as your life unfolds. They will be the key to your success.