Graduation Day at The College of William and Mary

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wrenbuildingYes, it does seem like just yesterday, that we were sitting in William and Mary Hall listening to College President Taylor Reveley welcome the Class of 2013 to campus, yet yesterday he conferred the  the graduate’s  degrees and gave the closing remarks! Time flies! Yesterday’s graduation ceremony was like everything on this campus wonderful, Boy I hate to leave it! My wife tells me there is a Parent’s Alumni Association, but that we’re too poor to join!

Anyway security was pretty tight around campus yesterday as the Chancellor of the College is Robert Gates, former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense and the keynote speaker was Robert Mueller the second longest-serving Director of the FBI. Gates’ only job yesterday, was to introduce Mueller,  The highlight of his comments was saying that his attire was a sort of unique blending of medieval academic tradition and Lady Gaga. What do you think?

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Mueller opened his keynote speech by saying that the Lady Gaga remark would not be forgotten and then with a remembrance of Bill Cosby’s speech at his daughter’s graduation:

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As I look out at all of you, I am reminded of my youngest daughter’s graduation from college a number of years ago. Comedian Bill Cosby delivered the commencement address. He said that a commencement was as much for the parents as for the graduates – for today, parents are not only filled with pride, but with a sense of newfound freedom. Yet Cosby joked that as he drove home from his own daughter’s commencement, with his daughter following in her car, one thought kept running through his mind: Why are you still here … coming back to my house?

Mueller went on to describe characteristic traits important throughout your life. The first was integrity,

Regardless of your chosen career, you are only as good as your word. You  can be smart, aggressive, articulate, and indeed persuasive. But if you are not honest, your reputation will suffer. And once lost, a good reputation can never, ever be regained. As the saying goes, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. And if you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”

The other character traits included in the speech were; public service, humility, and patience. Speaking about humility, Mueller used his colleague and friend Lee Rawls as an example. Lee was humble and always brought Mueller back to earth….

Lee knew how to cut through the nonsense and get to the heart of the matter better than anyone. He also knew how to put me in my place. During one particularly heated meeting, everyone was frustrated – mostly with me – and I myself may well have been a wee bit impatient and ill tempered. Lee sat silently, and then posed the following question out of the blue: “What is the difference between the Director of the FBI and a four-year-old child?” The room grew hushed. Finally, he said, “Height.”

 

On those days when we were under attack by the news media and being clobbered by Congress, when the Attorney General was not at all happy with me, I would walk down to Lee’s office, hoping for a sympathetic ear. I would ask, “How are we doing?” Lee would shake his head and say, “You’re toast. You’re dead meat. You’re history.” He would continue, “Don’t take yourself too seriously, because no one else around here does.”

While I am sure that Mueller has delivered the same speech at many other campuses around the country, I thought it was a well constructed commencement speech. You can read the full speech here.

After conferring the degrees, The College President Taylor Reveley gave the closing remarks. I always enjoy listening to him, his dry wit always stands out … his opening comment! (Think of this comment being delivered in a slow Southern drawl)

Be of good cheer everyone – we approach the end of these ceremonies. The president is now supposed to offer wise words to our graduates. As I am wont to say at this late stage of our long commencement proceedings, I always feel like the corpse at an Irish wake. They need you to have the party, but they don’t expect you to say anything. Brevity will rule!

He then spoke of the four anchors that he thought get you through tough times:

First, integrity – taking care to conduct our lives so we can look at ourselves in the mirror every day.

Second, a capacity to give and receive love from other people, and to give and receive friendship.

Third, a willingness to devote some of our time and talent to the service of others, without any need to be paid for helping.

And fourth, a belief in something greater than ourselves, whether this belief is rooted in religious faith or another commitment that transcends any sense that we personally are the center of all that matters. Complete remarks

IMG_0289[1]He closed the ceremonies by leading a rousing cheer for William (men only) and Mary (women) who chartered the College and then for The Class of 2013. He then tossed a large golden beach ball to the graduates. Other beach balls were launched toward the students from around the Kaplan Center!

IMG_0294[1]After the main ceremonies, individual Department ceremonies were held a various locations throughout campus. The Psychology Department’s Elizabeth’s major was held in the Theater. Among the 150 students receiving their diplomas was Elizabeth’s freshman room-mate Bizu Soloman!

All in all in was a very nice day! Congratulations Elizabeth on an amazing four years your mother and I are very, very proud of all you have accomplished! Finally, as my wife and I left Williamsburg this morning, we decided that we both miss The College of  William and Mary already!