by President Arnold Speert William Paterson University Undergraduate
May 17, 2006
Thank you Tiffany (Groglio)…Members of the Platform Party, members
of the William Paterson University faculty and staff, and members
of the Class of 2006, please join with me in thanking and congratulating
those family members and friends who have given of themselves to
bring forward this graduating class.Their love, support, and understanding were essential to
all of our successes.
Will the faculty please rise.These individuals are at the very core of our University
and its efforts to promote our students’ success and to provide
our region with intellectual leadership and cultural enrichment.Our successes are a result of their hard work and dedication.Please join me in demonstrating our appreciation.
Members of the Class of 2006, we are gathered here to celebrate
your accomplishments as members of the William Paterson University
marks the completion of all degree requirements and yet is referred
to by a word, commencement, that signals the beginning of the responsibilities
of life after college.
Commencement is a pageant infused with the colors and symbols of
the academy.The faculty
wear caps, gowns, and hoods which are differentiated by colors of
disciplines and of the colleges and universities at which our faculty
studied.The mace, which
symbolizes William Paterson University’s sovereignty, is carried
by the Grand Marshal, Linda Dye, who leads our procession, and I
follow the entire procession wearing the seal of the University
as a symbol of my authority.
The music played relates to the solemnity of the program.We sing praise to our country through The Star Spangled
Banner, and praise to our University through The Alma Mater.
I like tradition.And
of all the traditions I know, Commencement is my favorite.In two short hours we get the chance to celebrate your success
and, through you, our collective accomplishments.Individuals are lauded for completing their degrees and sent
off in a burst of love to what we envision as even more successful
careers and lives.Individuals
who are black and white, Latino and Asian, women and men, gay and
straight, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and atheist.Individuals who share a connection through this community
of scholars and learners and who are empowered to pursue their futures
with confidence and resolve.
Yesterday afternoon we honored members of the 50th anniversary
class of 1956.These
graduates of Paterson State Teachers College have contributed to
their communities and succeeded in their professional pursuits and
are symbolic of our hopes and expectations for your future accomplishments.
Shortly, we will honor two individuals who have succeeded in their
respective fields and have worked to improve the lives of others.They serve as role models for what can be accomplished by
each of you.
This is the last time I will have an opportunity to address you
as a group.Your successes
here are harbingers of what you will achieve in the world after
college.My hope is
that you will use what you have learned here to not only contribute
to the workplace but also to the civic environment that we depend
on day in and day out.
On campuses, in the media, and in the Statehouse, the State Budget
for next year, and support for higher education in particular, is
a critical and timely topic for reflection and debate.In the ensuing discussion, questions of spending and duplicative
majors and unfettered growth are being raised.Those are, to be sure, important considerations, but what
should be of paramount concert to the citizenry is the mission of
public higher education and how the State could and should be supportive.
Our funding at the University enables spending and growth, but
it is the outcome, you and what you are taking with you, that is
the most compelling rationale for state support.I referred earlier to the faculty as the very core of the
University and what they bring to you and to our surrounding region.The academic programs that they have created and delivered
define the University and will be your point of reference for many
years to come.What
will also be defining for the University is what you accomplish
and what you foster in your homes, communities, and workplaces.Each time you are referenced, where you went to college will
likely be noted.You
will become our point of reference for many years to come.
As we do after each Commencement, we will be sending State legislators
a list of the members of the Class of 2006 and I expect that they
will write to congratulate you as they have in the past.I hope that many of you will take the time to write back
and let your legislators know how much you believe that future generations
of students should have access to the opportunities you have had
and that support for higher education is among the most certain
means to advance the State’s core mission of building an informed
and committed citizenry.
We are very much dependent upon each other for our achievements
as a community and as a society.This was underscored this weekend by a report I read about
the Commencement at Tulane University in New Orleans.Former Presidents Bush and Clinton were honored for their
work in raising in excess of $130 million in relief money for the
victims of Katrina.Former
President Bush said that “the flood waters may have breached the
levees that surround this city and may have destroyed home after
home, block after block, but today we also know they couldn’t break
the spirit of the people who call this remarkable, improbable city
home.”And Former President
Clinton noted that the enormous response should represent for the
graduates “a positive manifestation of the most important fact of
your lives—the interdependence of human beings on this planet…and
if you look at the negative aspects of Katrina, the lives lost,
the property washed away, dreams broken, it is also evidence of
As you leave our campus community, recognize how wonderful you
are and how much potential you have, not just for yourselves.Recognize how you can apply the knowledge, skills, and talents
that you developed here to improve the lives of fellow citizens
throughout our region, our nation, and even the world.Recognize how much you will be able to accomplish by your
future achievements in teaching, science and technology, social
service, the arts, mass communication, and business.Recognize how much your family, friends, neighbors, and associates
depend upon you.Remember
your experiences here and use what you have learned to foster tolerance,
understanding, and harmony.
I can and do dream of your future successes, because I know that
each of you will make a difference and contribute to the future
of our world.
We are depending on you.You
have our confidence, our trust, and our love.