|Ithaca College, May 13, 2000|
Thank you very much, John [Walsh, senior class president], for your words on behalf of the class of 2000. Thanks also to the senior class officers and your classmates for organizing and making this gift [of $8,580]. The Ithaca College annual fund is a critical component of our giving program, and we appreciate your generous support.
I enjoyed attending several Senior Week events, including a wonderful Commencement Eve concert and the spectacular fireworks last evening. These and other Senior Week events provided a happy culmination of your years at Ithaca College and a celebration of your IC friendships. You may not know this now, but many of the close friendships you developed while you were here will last for a lifetime. This is a wonderful aspect of the college experience, and I encourage you to stay in touch with one another in the years to come.
It gives me great pleasure to recognize a special member of the class of 2000 and a member of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees. Kyle Johnson concludes his two-year term as the student trustee on the board today. He has done excellent work carrying out his trustee responsibilities, and I thank Kyle for his service and commitment to the College. I also thank Chairman [Herman] Muller [Jr.] and the entire board for their support over the past year and for the work that they do on behalf of our students.
In 1992, during the centennial celebration of the founding of Ithaca College, then-president James J. Whalen instituted the tradition of presenting graduates with Commencement medallions. Today these medallions were given to you, graduates, by Ithaca College community alumni.
The presentation of medallions by our alumni is an important symbolic gesture, for today you are welcomed into the ranks of the Ithaca College alumni. Through your aptitude and diligence you have earned your place here, and we celebrate that accomplishment today.
Your new role as alumni includes several specific responsibilities:
- First, carry your knowledge and skills forth into the world to improve the welfare of humankind by whatever means you are able.
- Second, let others know, by your example, of the commitment to excellence that is the hallmark of Ithaca College.
- Third, support your fellow alumni and current students through the many opportunities available from the Office of Alumni Relations and our alumni clubs across the country.
- Fourth and finally, support the next generation of scholars -- at Ithaca and elsewhere -- by volunteering to offer guidance to young people. We look forward to all of your future accomplishments and contributions.
Now I would like to share a few thoughts about the quotation from author Edith Wharton that is inscribed on your medallions: "There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
You have lived this quotation while at Ithaca College. Through your character and your actions you have shaped the nature of this college in so many ways -- in your various roles as leaders in some dimension of your life here, and as mirrors or informed followers in others. In all of these, each of you has discovered and shared your voice, your gifts, and your passions.
Ithaca College has been the place to practice being BOTH the candle and the mirror -- a place to learn the difference between these roles, as well as a place to learn which role suits you better in any given situation. Whether it be the candle or the mirror, each respective role has an effect on the whole community.
We have a shared responsibility to spread a light:
- a light that will create new knowledge;
- a light that will inspire others to join in the creation of that new knowledge; and
- a light that will improve (in small as well as large ways) the human condition.
As you leave Ithaca, know that each of you in your own way has the ability to spread light to a waiting world. You have shown through your accomplishments here that you have the motivation and the commitment to do so. We -- the faculty, staff, and administration of Ithaca College -- have worked to provide you with a strong foundation for your future professional and personal lives. Put it all to good use. Never stop dreaming about how your knowledge, your continuing ability to grow and learn, and your sense of social responsibility can shine a new light on your community -- your family, your neighborhood, your city, state, and our world.
Before I conclude today, I ask each graduate to turn around and express your appreciation to your parents, families, and friends for their support of your Ithaca College education. Your accomplishments are the reflections of their dreams, sacrifices, and support.
Finally, thank you, graduates, for choosing Ithaca College. During your years as students here you have enriched our community through your presence, your unpredictability, and your inherent lovableness. On behalf of the entire Ithaca College community, I wish you well in all that lies ahead. We will miss you!
Best wishes and congratulations to each one of you. And in the words of Garrison Keillor from that famous radio show, A Prairie Home Companion,"Be well, do good work, and keep in touch!"