December 12, 2022

Chancellor Remarks at 2022 December Commencement

To all of our graduates: Congratulations!

It’s a great day, one you will always remember.

Consider your journey: all those years, of dreaming, aspiring, planning, so many long days and late nights, an epic journey, a very high mountaintop to climb... and here you are! Take a moment to appreciate the magnitude of your accomplishment.

Today marks the culmination of what has been an incredible journey, what I called in your convocation just a few years ago “one of the great adventures of your life.”

In the course of time, you will reflect on many different aspects of these years.

You will remember the time you spent with friends.

You will remember having the best mascot of any college or university [Zot! Zot! Zot!];

the scramble for peter stickers;

overnights at the Gateway Center;

boba on Ring Road.

You have arrived at this wonderful day because, over these past few years, you lived in accordance with the personal qualities that are most necessary to succeed at one of the country’s great universities.

You have been curious. You sought out new knowledge and explored a variety of intellectual interests. 

You have developed your personal integrity, pushing yourself to be honest, avoiding self-deceit and the deceit of others.  

You have nurtured in yourself the intellectual humility to be open to new ideas, to be willing to make mistakes and to admit when you are wrong.  You have learned that knowledge is always evolving, which means acknowledging the limitations of what you know and remaining receptive to learning from others.

And you have demonstrated great tenacity as you continued to pursue your intellectual interests even when the subjects became difficult or you encountered obstacles.  You saw things through to the end.

The four character traits I have just described – curiosity; integrity; intellectual humility; and intellectual tenacity – are known, not coincidentally, as the Anteater Virtues.  They underlie how we as faculty have gone about teaching you how to succeed in your studies.  They brought you to this great day.

But these Anteater Virtues don’t lose their importance or usefulness just because you are graduating.  Even as the individual facts learned in your courses become harder and harder to recall, I hope you will continue to nurture these traits, because these traits are essential to living a life whereby you continue to care about the truth, and you continue to engage with others with integrity and mutual respect. 

These traits will serve you well as you embark on your career, develop your family and other relationships, become a leader in your community, and ultimately make the world a better place.

And the world needs to be a better place.  Every generation of students feels it is entering a troubled world, but your generation is truly facing great problems.  From the existential threat of climate change to the rise of political polarization around the world, from the increasing inequality between the haves and the have nots to the rising tides of hatred and bigotry in our nation, we are confronting extraordinary challenges.

Yet, even as I say these words, I remain optimistic, for I have every confidence that you can find new solutions to old problems and new ways of meeting the challenges of today and of tomorrow. 

And especially, in a world where too many people seek out that which divides us, go that extra mile to deepen our understanding of each other, to build bridges, to talk rather than yell, to debate rather than fight, to protect rather than exploit – to love rather than hate.

We are celebrating your commencement from your time as a student at UCI, but we cannot wait to see you again, back on the campus, reconnecting with professors, revisiting your favorite spots. Remember, you are an Anteater for life, and while your time as a student is coming to an end, your time as an alumnus is just beginning, and the Alumni Association will make sure that your ongoing connection to the campus remains meaningful and useful.

On behalf of all of us on the faculty, and everyone on this campus who worked so hard to support and guide you, let me say to you, the class of 2022, that you have enriched us immeasurably, and we are grateful for the honor of having you as our students. 

With great pride we congratulate you, and we salute everyone who cares about you, on your outstanding achievement that is represented by today’s ceremony.

Fiat Lux – let there be light.