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Commencement 1998Commencement 1998
Ithaca College, May 17, 1998

Thank you very much, Eric [Schnabolk, senior class president], for your words on behalf of the class of 1998. Thanks, also, to you and to the senior class officers for organizing these class gifts [nearly $8,000]. Students will appreciate the seating area on the academic quad and the establishment of scholarship support for years to come.

I enjoyed my first Senior Week playing "I.C.opoly," and I hope that most of you made it to Park Place without a trip to jail -- and before you went bankrupt. I was impressed with the enthusiasm and spirit of the class. I did not attend some events that started at midnight, but appreciated being included in the festivities.

I would like to take a moment to recognize three trustees from the Ithaca College community who have just completed their terms on the board: Laura de Abruña, faculty trustee; Mark Darling, staff trustee; and Bill Roberts, student trustee. These three members have all done excellent work carrying out their trustee responsibilities. I thank each of you for your commitment and service to the College. You set wonderful and high standards for those who will come after you. I would also like to thank Chairman [Herman] Muller [Jr.] and the entire board for their support during my first year at Ithaca, and I look forward to the years to come.

Graduates, the commemorative medallion that each of you received earlier today contains three gentle reminders: the official seal of Ithaca College, the motto of the College -- "Commitment to Excellence," and a quote from social activist Corita Kent that reads: "Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed."

The seal of the College is there to remind you that you are part of a heritage -- a reputation built by former students, by the faculty, and by the administration and staff -- built over the course of our College's history. In presenting this seal to you today, we are acknowledging that you have demonstrated to us your ability to uphold the high standards of this tradition. Your relationship with Ithaca College does not end today; rather, it enters a new phase. Today you leave South Hill to bring your knowledge, skills, and compassion out into the world. May the world see the pride you have in Ithaca College, just as we now express the pride that Ithaca College has in you.

In the months and years to come, the message that the world will hear from you will undoubtedly reflect our motto, "Commitment to Excellence." Through your work, your play, your relationships, your creativity, and your persistence, those whom you meet will know what excellence is. I hope that you feel as confident as we do that your coursework, your cocurricular activities, and the tutelage of our exemplary faculty have prepared you to begin the next portion of your life's journey and to meet the challenges of the next century. These challenges will indeed require your excellence -- from the continued explosion of technology and biotechnology to the diminishing of our natural resources to the bifurcation of the world economy into the haves and have-nots. You will be called upon to use your knowledge, along with your ability to access and synthesize information, all while listening to the ethical urgings of your inner voice. May you take the ability to learn, which we hope you have developed here, and apply it with the commitment and the excellence that are the hallmarks of our graduates.

But as you head out into the world to achieve what you will achieve, remind yourself, on occasion, of Corita Kent's words: "Life is a succession of moments. To live each one is to succeed." If you look too far ahead, living only for dreams, or too far back, living only to repeat the past, you will miss the fullness of the present. This is both a lesson for your professional life and your personal life. It is important to have balance in one's life, so find the time to do the things that you enjoy -- athletic or physical activities, the beautiful outdoors, visiting with friends, reading books, volunteering in your community. May you find the satisfaction of living a well-balanced and healthy life.

On behalf of the entire Ithaca College community, I thank you for studying with us, and I thank your parents and guardians for their support of your Ithaca College education. I encourage you to return to South Hill often and to join us at the alumni club events that occur across the country.

Congratulations to each of you on this momentous occasion. I wish you all the very best in the years to come.