May 23, 2010

President Brian C. Mitchell
Class of 2010 Commencement
May 23, 2010

Good morning, everyone. I begin by offering a welcome to today's graduates, and their families and friends, to Bucknell's 160th Commencement ceremony.

We also welcome my faculty colleagues, who have worked side-by-side with you as teachers and mentors since your arrival on campus. And we welcome the staff, who have supported and guided you through the past four years.   

We are also delighted to welcome members of the University's Board of Trustees and today's honorary degree recipients, as well as our distinguished keynote speaker, Dr. Benjamin Carson. This is a joyous day for our seniors, and we are glad that you are here to share it with them.  

So I begin with the obvious: Congratulations to the Class of 2010!  

Symbol of learning
Today we confer upon you a symbol of the learning you have mastered through tenacity, determination and constant exploration of new ideas and interests. Guided by our outstanding faculty, supported by our superb staff, nurtured by your families, and encouraged by your classmates, you took on the challenge of joining a university community and you succeeded.  

Most of you I suspect set foot on the Academic Quad as high schoolers on admissions tours. Today, you will leave this beloved space as alumni of one of the nation's most selective liberal arts institutions. Today, you join a group of nearly 50,000 Bucknell graduates who live and work all over the world - and who still call this marvelous place home. Today, we join with your families and friends to celebrate your success.

My wife, Maryjane, and I want to extend special congratulations to the families of our graduates. As parents, we have warm memories of our own sons' college graduations. The profound joy of the moment is the culmination of a long-term effort that, after all, engaged your entire family.

For more than two decades, you have supported and guided these young people. You have instilled in them a deep love of learning, community and service to others. You gave them the confidence to try and the courage to persist. They arrived at Bucknell prepared to give it their all, and they succeeded. We are honored that your family chose Bucknell and entrusted us with the education of your children.

To our students: you know first-hand that getting into Bucknell was tough. And earning your diploma was even tougher. But parenthood just might be that toughest challenge of all. This sea of caps and gowns and smiles would not have been possible without your families. They have given you a tremendous foundation for a lifetime of personal and professional success. So to our graduates, please join with me and my faculty and staff colleagues to now thank them.

Immersion in liberal arts
To our graduates: You have completed a four-year immersion in the liberal arts. It is a learning experience that has influenced the worldview of generations of Bucknellians while simultaneously preparing them to succeed in every facet of modern life. It is an achievement in which you can and should take a great deal of pride, and which we trust you will carry forward with humility and commitment.

So as we celebrate you today, we look forward to hearing about your next adventures. Your move to new cities, and perhaps to new countries. Volunteering to help those less fortunate. Starting your own business, or bringing new ideas to the marketplace. First jobs, first homes and family life. Pursuing a graduate degree — or graduate degrees. There is simply no limit to what you can do.

Today, Class of 2010, the Bucknell community welcomes three outstanding individuals who exemplify the breadth and the depth of the liberal arts, loyalty to Bucknell and service to others. They represent academia, university administration and philanthropy.

Now, two of these individuals have close ties to Bucknell: John Zeller, a member of the Class of 1941 and beloved administrator and community exemplar; and Robert C. Rooke, a longtime trustee, supporter and friend of Bucknell, the alma mater of his father. Their accomplishments, and deep devotion to Bucknell, suggest the successful future and lifelong relationship with the University that await you as alumni. 

Our third honoree, Dr. Martha Nussbaum, is a renowned philosopher, educator and author whose work transcends traditional disciplinary boundaries and models the virtues of a liberal arts education.

Recognizing honorees
We would now like to recognize each of these honorees one at a time.

Martha Nussbaum, in recognition of your distinguished achievements, which exemplify the qualities of intellect, character, and creativity most cherished by this University, and by the authority granted to me by the Board of Trustees, the Faculty of the University, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Literary Letters, admitting you to all the rights and privileges which throughout the world pertain to this degree, in token of which I now invest you with the appropriate insignia and deliver this diploma into your hands.

Robert C. Rooke, in recognition of your distinguished achievements, which exemplify the qualities of intellect, character, and creativity most cherished by this University, and by the authority granted to me by the Board of Trustees, the Faculty of the University, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, admitting you to all the rights and privileges which throughout the world pertain to this degree, in token of which I invest you with the appropriate insignia and deliver this diploma into your hands.  

John Zeller, in recognition of your distinguished achievements, which exemplify the qualities of intellect, character, and creativity most cherished by this University, and by the authority granted to me by the Board of Trustees, the Faculty of the University, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, admitting you to all the rights and privileges which throughout the world pertain to this degree, in token of which I invest you with the appropriate insignia and deliver this diploma into your hands.

Commencement speaker
Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my honor to introduce the Commencement speaker for the Class of 2010, Dr. Benjamin S. Carson. A world-renowned surgeon, he is celebrated for his technical expertise and remarkable accomplishments in the operating room. But, like so many Bucknellians, there is much more to Dr. Carson than professional achievements. He is also a passionate humanitarian whose firsthand knowledge of overcoming personal obstacles has inspired his dedication to helping others.

Dr. Carson is a full professor of neurosurgery, oncology, plastic surgery and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has directed pediatric neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center for nearly a quarter of a century. In 1987, Dr. Carson became the first surgeon to successfully perform separation of craniopagus twins, more commonly known as Siamese twins, who were joined at the head. In May of 2008, Dr. Carson became the inaugural recipient of a professorship dedicated in his name. He is now the Benjamin S. Carson Sr., M.D. and Dr. Evelyn Spiro, R.N. Professor of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins.

He is also president and cofounder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. The fund operates now in 34 states and Washington, D.C., and has awarded more than $3.9 million to more than 3,900 scholars. He is co-founder of Angels of the O.R., which provides grants for medical expenses not covered by insurance. In 2001, Dr. Carson was named by CNN and TIME Magazine as one of the nation's 20 foremost physicians and scientists. The same year, he was selected by the Library of Congress as one of the 89 "Living Legends" on its 200th anniversary. He is also the recipient of the 2006 Spingarn Medal, which is the highest honor bestowed by the NAACP.

In June of 2008, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush, which is the highest civilian honor in the United States. He has received literally hundreds of other awards during his distinguished career. Dr. Carson was recognized in November of 2008 by U.S. News & World Report and Harvard's Center for Public Leadership as one of "America's Best Leaders."

Dr. Carson's first three books, Gifted Hands, THINK BIG and The Big Picture, offer advice and insight into leading a successful life. In February of 2009, the movie Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story premiered on TNT, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as Carson. His fourth book, Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk, was released in 2008.

His medical accomplishments and passion for helping others are deeply inspiring, and we are honored that he joins us today. So ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Dr. Benjamin Carson.

Last Word
In accordance with the recommendation of the Faculties of the University and by the authority committed to me by the Board of Trustees and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I hereby confer upon each successful candidate the appropriate degree, admitting you to all the rights and privileges which throughout the world pertain to that degree, in testimony whereof you will receive the diploma of the University.

To the parents, families and friends of our graduates, thank you for lending us your daughters and sons, grandsons and granddaughters, sisters and brothers, and nephews and nieces.

On behalf of my colleagues on the faculty and staff, we have done our best to educate your graduate for life.

You were bold enough and courageous enough to grant them this one greatest gift of all — a Bucknell education. You did it selflessly and you did it well.

To the faculty and staff with us today: Thank you for all that you have done to make this day possible and meaningful for our graduates. You are a superb group of colleagues and an extraordinary faculty who have offered to these graduates the gift of your knowledge.

You taught them how to think deeper, to articulate with eloquence and passion, to write with force and grace, to apply quantitative skills and to use technology. In doing so, you offered these graduates one of the very best educations in America.

For my part, it has been an honor and a rare privilege to stand with you for these past six years.

A brief word to my wife as well. I want to publicly acknowledge and thank you for your support, for after nearly 20 years of presidencies, including these last six at Bucknell. Maryjane, you migrated from a robust and distinguished career in health care to at best an ill-defined role in American higher education as presidential spouse to allow me to do something where I believe that my skills might do some good.

You did so, I think, by crafting this journey as an adventure that the two of us could share. Through good times and through bad, you were an extraordinary model of discretion, intelligence, grace and good humor.

To our graduates: We were determined to honor the requests from so many of you to remain long enough to be present today to hand you your degrees.

And I now can tell you as I look out over the audience today, it was so worth it. We could not be more pleased for or more proud of you than we are at this moment. And we trust that you will always remember us as we will always, always remember you.

Graduates, you leave this University, your University, carrying on a tradition of excellence. Go forward with confidence. Do great things, large and small. You are Bucknellians. We congratulate you and we wish you the very best.

To the audience: ladies and gentlemen, now please join me one last time in congratulating the Class of 2010.

Contact: Division of Communications

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