May 20, 2013

Good morning and welcome to Bucknell University's 163rd Commencement ceremony.

It may be damp outside but nothing can dampen our spirits that are so filled with love and joy and pride.

On behalf of the faculty, staff, students and Board of Trustees, I welcome the Class of 2013 and our master's degree recipients, along with their families and friends, our distinguished speaker, Sunil Gulati, and our honorary degree recipient, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson. Thank you to everyone who traveled from near and far to be with us here on this joyful occasion.

Four years ago, when this undergraduate class was just beginning its college career, the leaders of this University challenged you to envision what success looked like, and to develop a vision of the future so that you would have the best chance of achieving great outcomes. Well, here we are today, graduates. Time has flown by. Some would even say it's been stolen away. And so here is the news: that preparation, that focus on your vision for the life you want to make, has only begun. And you must never stop.

Now along the path that brought you here this day, you were supported by those who sit behind you now. In a new Bucknell tradition, I'm asking the graduates to please rise, turn to your family and friends behind you and show them your thanks for what they have done for you today.

Now Bucknell's incredible faculty and staff, represented by my colleagues here on both sides of this stage, have both challenged and nurtured you. They have asked you to work hard, learn much, and to grow. They have asked you to live like your future, THE future, is your responsibility. Because it is.

We hear time and again from our graduates and families how much our faculty and staff mean to them. Well today is your chance to say "thank you" together. Would everyone in this gathering who is able please rise and thank the faculty and staff for the dedication to these students, our newest graduates.

Graduates, you all are well aware that during your time here we have launched the public phase of the most ambitious campaign in Bucknell's history. And so I have only one last thing to ask you:

Who believes in the Class of 2013?

We Do.

Now let's get on with the ceremony. Welcome.

It is now my pleasure to invite to the podium Provost Mick Smyer, to join me in honoring our honorary degree recipient.

It is now my pleasure to introduce our distinguished Commencement speaker, who is an accomplished teacher, leader and economist, and, I am proud to say, one of Bucknell's own.

An alumnus of the Class of 1981, Sunil Gulati is president of the United States Soccer Federation and senior lecturer at Columbia University.

While an undergraduate at Bucknell, he studied economics and political science and played men's soccer. He went on to earn Master of Arts and Master of Philosophy degrees in economics from Columbia University. After several years of full-time teaching, Mr. Gulati joined the World Bank as country economist for the European nation of Moldova.

Mr. Gulati's love of soccer eventually drew him down a different career path. He joined the USSF, where he was instrumental in having the U.S. host its first-ever World Cup in 1994, and later became deputy director of Major League Soccer before being elected USSF president in 2006.

Thanks to his leadership, soccer has become one of the most popular sports in America. The founder of Major League Soccer has described our speaker as "The single most important person in the development of soccer in this country." So all you soccer moms and dad out there, for all those countless hours you spent cheering on your children at soccer matches, you can thank Mr. Gulati.

It is a game of teamwork, of hard work, of earning little moments that make a huge difference in the outcome. Seems like a perfect recipe for a successful Bucknellian.

The graduating class itself recommended Mr. Gulati be our speaker, and we are delighted that he agreed to do so.

Class of 2013, colleagues and friends, please join me in welcoming Sunil Gulati to the platform.

After student response

Thank you Beth.

What a wonderful and moving tribute to your grandmother and all your classmates.

Beth said, "We all have Bucknell in common and always will."

Graduates, I ask you always to remember that we all have Bucknell in common, and by extension the power that Beth describes - the power to keep learning, to teach, to lead, to use our knowledge and talents to make a positive difference in the world.

I look forward to reuniting with you again and again in the coming years as the opportunities allow.

Commencement is a joyous occasion, but of course it's also bittersweet. As happy as we are to see you off into the next great chapter of your lives, I admit that many of us are little bit sad, too, to see you go.

So please keep in touch. Let us know how you're doing. Just as you will miss your friends here on campus, please know that we will miss you. And know, too, that we will always be here as your University home.


Let's all rise for the singing of the Alma Mater.