Chancellor's Corner: Spring 2014 Commencement address

Published: May 9, 2014

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 Boulder.

I know today's graduates join me in extending a special welcome to their family and friends, whose love and support have helped to make this day possible. Please join me in showing our appreciation.

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 his or her full potential. Will representatives of the faculty please rise and be recognized?

Graduates, congratulations! Your hard work has brought you to this day. The University Seal you will soon see embossed on your diploma depicts a torch in the hands of youth with a Greek inscription that reads: "Let Your Light Shine!"

This year, you really let your light shine and it glowed brightly.

If September’s flood taught us one thing, it was this: If we come together and help each other, even in a disaster we can make a community a stronger place.

The nation took note as you helped your fellow students and neighbors, even when you may have been victimized by the floodwaters yourself. We saw students go out into the community to aid Boulder County residents devastated by the flood. We saw students raising money for each other to replace textbooks and help them to acquire lodging and meals. Student athletes served meals to campus evacuees and emergency responders. Your sense of community was inspiring and I want to thank you.

And through it all, you per-severed and earned your degree! You can take pride that you embody that torch of light on your diploma.

The world lost its own shining light in December, with the loss of Nelson Mandela. It was Mandela who said,  “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

No truer words have been spoken. What Mandela didn’t say is this: Education is also the most powerful way to change yourself.

With your education you have given yourself the power to transform yourself and the world. Think back to when you were a freshman or a fledgling graduate student, and realize all you have accomplished.

In your academic career at CU-Boulder you have learned valuable lessons in critical thinking, civil discourse, collaborative decision-making and creative solutions.

You have worked collaboratively and across disciplines to control satellites in space, work on biomedical advancements, develop clean energy, produce works of art … or create animated films that lampoon social issues.   

Your student-led sustainability initiatives have been a model for the nation, and even the world, and earned CU-Boulder the moniker, "The Greenest University in America."

We see personal transformation in the 13,000 CU students who participate in community service every year. We see students who make an impact on the world when they design and install water and sanitation systems for developing countries.   

For each of you, your growth has been personal – unique to you. But for all of you, it has prepared you for a life of career and contribution in a global society.

We sincerely care about your upcoming transition from campus to career, or graduate school, and we want to know how we can be helpful to you as new alumni. As part of that commitment, we will be sending you a message with a Graduate Destinations Survey in a few months. Please take a moment to provide us this vital information that will help us to improve the value of the degree you are receiving today.

Congratulations. You have earned it. Hold your light high, and lead the way.