FROM THE CHANCELLOR
Commencement Address, May 7, 2010, Folsom Field
Chancellor Philip DiStefano gave the following commencement address to 5,825 graduates, their families and friends at Folsom Field on May 7. In it he honored Dean of Libraries James Williams for 20 years of service as commencement marshal and introduced the commencement speaker chosen by the class of 2010, John Wood, a 1986 graduate of the Leeds School of Business.
Graduates, members of the Board of Regents, President Benson, members of the faculty and staff, parents, distinguished guests, family and friends; it is my pleasure and honor to have the opportunity to address you today as the Chancellor of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
With us today are many members of the faculty who have guided and mentored these graduates. They have shared their time, knowledge and expertise to help each student reach this important milestone, and their full potential. Will representatives of the faculty please rise and be recognized?
Now I would like to recognize our commencement marshal, Dean James Williams, who today is marshaling his 20th spring commencement. Dean Williams is our Dean of Libraries. Since 1990 he has ushered graduates to the next chapter of their lives. Dean Williams has brought honor and distinction to our graduates and to our commencement at the University of Colorado at Boulder for two decades. I would like to present Dean Williams with a commemorative medal for 20 years of service as commencement marshal. Thank you Dean James Williams.
While there are a lot of institutions offering college degrees, the value inherent in a CU degree is not only what you know, but also what you care about. As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote in his classic poem, Ulysses, “I am part of all that I have met.”
Fifty years ago, John F. Kennedy was elected as the first president to inspire American youth to be ambassadors of the world and represent all that is good about America. He challenged college students to live and work in developing countries around the world, dedicating themselves to peace and development. That idea was the beginning of Kennedy’s Peace Corps.
Today, as I look out at all of you, I am reminded of how CU students and graduates have embraced Kennedy’s challenge and how this spirit of service is so fully engrained in our ethic. CU-Boulder is No. 2 in the nation with 95 alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers this year alone. And we are No. 5 all-time in Peace Corps volunteers with 2,252 alumni who have served since its inception in 1961.
We have a long history of graduating service-oriented students. Recently, CU-Boulder was one of only three colleges and universities in the United States to receive a Presidential Award for General Community Service. Each year more than 13,000 CU-Boulder students participate in 360,000 hours of community service. That’s equivalent to 170 people working full time for a year.
As graduates of CU, our students clearly care about the world around them. Look no further than our student-led sustainability initiatives, which have earned CU the title of the “Greenest University in America,” as proclaimed by CNN last month. Our zero-waste football games in this stadium and our green buildings have set new standards for communities across the country. The Class of 2010 can be proud for leading the way.
Our engaged students distinguish us nationally in many ways. The CU debate team won the national championship last month. Of its members – Than Hedman, Will Van Treuren, Dara Miller and Dan Dexter – three are science majors, demonstrating once again the versatility of CU students!
At CU we dearly hold the ideal that your education is more than just developing skills to send you into the job market, but to send you into life itself. Our future as a society is in the hands of you – our youth. The University Seal you will soon see stamped on your diploma depicts a lamp in the hands of youth. The Greek inscription reads, “Let Your Light Shine.” That is all we ask of our graduates. Let your light shine, because you will lead the way. Congratulations to the Class of 2010!
Now I would like to introduce you to a CU-Boulder alumnus who left the corporate world at the height of his career to change the world. Your commencement speaker today, John Wood, graduated from the Leeds School of Business magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Finance in 1986. Fourteen years later he founded an organization that today has helped 3 million children in developing countries learn how to read.
John chose to leave his senior executive position with Microsoft to start “Room to Read” in 2000 to educate children in rural villages across the globe. His organization currently operates in nine countries in Asia and Africa.
His team has established over 7,500 libraries, donated and published 6 million books, built more than 850 schools, and funded more than 8,800 long-term scholarships for girls.
He is the author of the award-winning memoir, “Leaving Microsoft to Change the World” published in 20 languages. Here is one CU-Boulder alumni who let his light shine. He is engaged in the world and leading the way.
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