Chancellor Debbie Ford’s Commencement Remarks
Good afternoon and congratulations to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside class of 2012! It's very exciting for me to salute your accomplishments and usher you into the next chapter in your lives as you complete this step on your journey of lifelong learning.
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is a jewel in our prestigious University of Wisconsin System and if we have done our job well, and I believe we have, you are prepared for success.
I always enjoy sharing this important, and I think interesting, piece of information:
63 percent of you, our graduates, here today are the first in their families to earn a university degree. Congratulations!
I know you are proud of your achievements and I know your family and friends are, too.
The co-founder and former chief executive officer and chairman of AOL Steve Case once said: "I do think that a general liberal arts education is very important, particularly in an uncertain changing world."
I was struck by this comment because, if there is one thing we can agree upon, it might be that our world is changing, and changing very rapidly.
Mr. Case, who was selected by President Obama to serve as chairman of the Startup America Partnership and was named to the President's Council on Jobs & Competitiveness, clearly understands the value and importance of adapting to change and the value of higher education.
Your education at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, was designed to provide you with a keen ability to see particular issues from numerous perspectives to interact in a society that grows more diverse each day and to successfully adapt to our changing global community.
When you reflect on your time at UW-Parkside five, 10, even 25 years from now, I won't be a bit surprised if what you remember or appreciate most is how this experience taught you to adapt, to change, and to think critically about a variety of issues from various points of view.
I hope that during your time here, you took the opportunity to experience and gain a greater appreciation for the arts. As you know, in January, we opened the amazing Rita Tallent Picken Regional Center for Arts and Humanities and began a year-long celebration of the arts and humanities that will encompass more than 300 concerts, theatre performances, humanities events, and art exhibitions.
Arts and humanities are a part of the fabric of who we are. As you move through life's journey, I believe you will also appreciate your interaction with the arts and humanities at UW-Parkside, and the way in which that interaction has enabled you to experience the world in a more gratifying manner.
Without question, the experience and education you received in your chosen discipline will drive your success. However, your ability to deal with change, to embrace and celebrate change, and the way in which you allow the arts and humanities to be a part of who you are that will be the real difference, that will greatly enhance, I believe, the quality of your life.
If you've been scanning ahead in your program, you may already know that today's guest speaker, Mr. Bruce Dethlefsen whom I will proudly introduce a little later in the program, is a poet. He was once asked where his poems came from. "They float by in the air and I catch them," he said. "If I'm not paying attention, they go on by. That's the most important thing for poets is to pay attention. Listen, watch, regard."
With his permission, I would like to expand on Bruce's theme. I believe it is important for all of us, new graduates, faculty, staff, parents, family members, to pay attention, listen, watch, regard.
Class of 2012, we, the faculty, staff, parents, family members, have prepared you to succeed. Now it is up to you to pay attention, to listen, to watch, so that when your personal poems and new opportunities float by, you'll be ready to catch them and make the most of them.Congratulations to the Class of 2012!