Good morning on this beautiful and rain-free day!
I am honored to welcome the Class of 2018 and our master's degree recipients to Bucknell's 168th 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 you 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, Mr. Jim Cramer, a Class of 2018 parent. We are delighted that you are here to help us celebrate the accomplishments of our graduates.
Four years ago this month, you made one of the most significant decisions of your young lives — you accepted our offer of admission to Bucknell. In just a few minutes, you will receive your diploma, a document that represents four years of challenges and growth, of discovery and determination — of intellectual exploration that will serve you well in whatever endeavors you pursue.
Each of you took your own path to and through Bucknell. And now, after this ceremony, each of you will follow your own path to personal and professional success. I know I speak for my faculty and staff colleagues who have helped prepare you for this journey forward when I say it's a privilege to watch this extraordinary transformation and we are so extremely proud of you.
Indeed, you are all remarkable individuals with a wide range of interests, talents, achievements and goals. But you are all united by Bucknell and the drive to become the very best versions of yourselves. Today, you join the worldwide community of nearly 50,000 Bucknell alumni and together, you can take lifelong pride in this accomplishment.
As you gather here on Malesardi Quadrangle for one last time as students, remember that no matter where your path leads, Bucknell will always be a part of you and we will always be your home.
Something equally important to note this morning is this: Remember where you came from. You wouldn't be here today without the support of parents, siblings and other family members and special friends.
In recognition of that, may I ask the graduates, would you please rise, turn around and with a great round of applause thank them for their dedication to your success?
Parents and family members, we are honored that you entrusted Bucknell with the special and awesome responsibility of educating these incredible individuals. We thank you for sharing them with us.
I would now ask everyone in the audience to stand, so that we can thank those who make possible the Bucknell experience — our faculty and staff, represented by my colleagues to the left and the right. Whether they work in classrooms and labs, in residence and dining halls, in the library or on our beautiful grounds, they truly care about our students and they take great pride in your graduation today.
I'd also like to offer a word of gratitude to two very special people to this University and two people who over the last six or seven years have become very special to me — Bob Malesardi, Class of 1945 and his wife Doris. Two years ago, Bob and Doris pledged $20 million to Bucknell, which at the time was the largest gift in our University's history, solely to support financial aid. Since then, through their matching gift program, the Malesardi Match, that endowment continues to grow significantly.
The Malesardis' commitment and leadership will forever strengthen the University by helping to expand access to a Bucknell education. We are so very lucky to have Bob and Doris with us here today on the quadrangle named in their honor.
A LAST WORD
(following the class response by Jackson Pierce-Felker '18)
Thank you, Jackson, 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.
Graduates, as you continue on your path, stay curious. Stay committed to a lifetime of learning. Stay healthy, both in body and in mind. Take good care of yourselves, your families, your friends, your neighbors and your school. And, to echo Jackson, have the confidence to take chances and to build the kind of life that allows each year to be your best. The best is always in front of you.
In your earliest days on campus, the Class of 2018 chose this motto: "Following different paths, we lead together." In today's world, this is more important than ever. Let your motto continue to guide you as you welcome and seek to understand those with a range of life's perspectives and experiences. Let our differences become our strength.
We are tremendously proud of you and we wish you the best as you venture beyond these hallowed grounds.