May 21, 2017

Good morning, Bucknell!

I am honored to welcome the Class of 2017 and our master’s degree recipients to Bucknell’s 167th Commencement ceremony.

Welcome to the many families and friends who join us today to celebrate this milestone with our graduates. And welcome to the University’s faculty and staff who have worked closely with you since your arrival on campus, and who have supported every step of your journey.

We are also pleased to have with us members of the University’s Board of Trustees and our distinguished keynote speaker, Dr. Fareed Zakaria. We are delighted that you all are here to help us celebrate the accomplishments of our students.

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!

Graduates, take a look at the classmates around you.

Just four years ago, you were high school seniors. You were strangers linked by a common decision to attend Bucknell. In doing so, you shared a desire to learn, to strive, to discover, to lead, to succeed, and to become the very best version of yourself.

Four years ago, you traveled from all over the country, and indeed from around the world, to this extraordinarily beautiful campus. It became your home. And together, you grew into the accomplished individuals that you are today, ready to leave our beloved campus and pursue your purpose. You are prepared to think, lead, serve, explore, and to make a difference in your community and in the world.

As you gather here on the Malesardi Quadrangle for one last time as students, pause for a moment to soak this in . . . This special place, and the people who make it so, will be part of you forevermore. You’ll draw upon the lessons of your experience here, time and time again.

One of the greatest joys of my job is handing diplomas to our graduates. It is hard to express the pride that Bucknell takes in your accomplishments, and we congratulate you warmly on your success. But just as important, we congratulate your families. No one succeeds in a vacuum, and without the support of your parents, siblings and other family members, this day simply would not be possible.

Graduates, would you please rise, turn around, and with a thunderous round of applause thank your families for their dedication to your success?

Parents, today is the culmination of your years of encouragement, patience, counsel and love. We are so honored that you entrusted your children’s education to Bucknell, and we thank you.

Now I would ask everyone who is able tostand, so that we can thank those who made our graduates’ journey possible — our faculty and staff. Twenty-four hours a day, they make possible the Bucknell experience — from the lecture hall to the dining hall to the residence hall and beyond. They challenge, they advise, and they truly and deeply care about our students. Please join me in applauding their commitment to your future.

We are officially gathered at the true academic heart of our campus — what is now and forevermore called the Malesardi Quadrangle. That is a special tribute to two very special people — Bob Malesardi, Class of 1945, and his wife Doris. Last year, Bob and Doris pledged $20 million to Bucknell, the largest gift in our University’s 171-year history. Through their leadership and inspiration, a matching gift program — the Malesardi Match — has amplified that commitment significantly, all of which will be used to support financial aid endowment to the benefit of Bucknellians — quite literally, forever.

We are so very lucky to have Bob and Doris with us here once again. Will you both please stand so that the Bucknell community can say thank you?



(following the class response by Max Ferrer '17)

Thank you, Max, for sharing those inspirational words. We are proud to call you a Bucknellian.

Just as we are proud of all of you for your accomplishments. As your path forward continues to unknown destinations, please know this: you are ready. Your time here has prepared you for the pursuit of meaningful personal and professional success. We look forward to seeing you seize the opportunities ahead.

As you become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators, remember that although you earned your Bucknell diploma, learning must be a lifelong pursuit. Remain curious. Be mindful of the world around you. And, to echo Max, I implore you to keep asking questions.

In your earliest days on campus, the Class of 2017 chose this motto: “The power to transform the future lies within our differences.”

More than ever, successful navigation of the world requires conscientious examination of our differences. Remember to seek them out, and to strive to understand, an array of perspectives —especially those that challenge your own.

At this moment, a new phase of your life begins. As you move forward, regardless of where your journeys take you, you are now and forevermore Bucknellians, and this will always be your home. We are tremendously proud of you, and we wish you the best, the very best, as you venture beyond these hallowed grounds.