You’ll be pleased to know that today, I have your first assignment: as you move onto this next chapter of your life, I am asking you to be curious.
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, famous for his work with black holes and the Big Bang Theory, made his first post on Facebook last fall. In his post he said, "I have always wondered what makes the universe exist. Time and space may forever be a mystery, but that has not stopped my pursuit."
Then he went on to write: "Our connections to one another have grown infinitely, and now that I have the chance, I'm eager to share this journey with you. Be curious, I know I will forever be."
Dr. Hawking’s post quickly garnered a like from Mark Zuckerberg, whose own curiosity led to Facebook, while he himself was a university student.
If universities are about anything, they are about stoking the fires of a deeper, boundless curiosity within each of us.
CU's great fallen astronauts, Ellison Onizuka and Kalpana Chawla, had boundless curiosity about our universe, and they died pursuing it.
Our latest Pulitzer Prize winner, Professor Elizabeth Fenn, who won the Pulitzer Prize in history last spring, is driven by curiosity.
For our Nobel laureates at CU, working to solve the riddle of cancer, it begins with curiosity.
For our social scientists, trying to solve the mystery of how we accommodate our differences, at a time of societal dissension, it starts with curiosity.
For our new students, wondering about the people and the cultures around them on their new campus … from 90 countries and 50 states … it begins with curiosity.
If we teach you to be creative, to be innovative, and to be curious, we have done our job because those things will lead to success over a lifetime.
But curiosity does not stop with discovery and innovation. We should all be curious about the issues of our time, and ask questions. This is your opportunity to explore, engage and take on difficult conversations in a university environment.
In classrooms, residence halls and around campus, you, your professors, classmates and campus colleagues will engage in some of the most important issues of the day, in conversations which matter to us here on campus, and in the world we all live in.
As a community we need to sort through these issues together … issues such as access to education, Black Lives Matter and the ugly persistence of sexual assaults on our nation’s college campuses. As individuals we need to address and contribute to solving these issues.
At a place like the University of Colorado, you can engage and shape that discussion from a place of personal inquiry in a respectful and a civil way.
Now, I want to ask you to be curious about one more thing. You are here, about to start a career as a Colorado Buffalo. Imagine what it would be like to be a Buff forever … You graduate, go on to a career you have always dreamed of, and then what?
Well of course, you want your degree to hold the value and the prestige that it has today. You can do that by being forever invested and engaged in the university, by being a Forever Buff, now and into the future.
Thank you. Have a good year, and a great career at CU-Boulder.
If you see me on campus, stop me and say hello.
We look forward to having you as part of our CU community.
Go Buffs! And be Boulder!