J. Michael Adams on the occasion of his first Commencement as President of FDU, May 18, 2000
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I clearly remember sitting in your seats at my baccalaureate, listening to my commencement speaker who spoke for nearly an hour. And the thought that kept going through my mind was: “when is he going to ever end, so I can get my diploma.” And I confess, 30 odd years later, not remembering his message.
The average commencement address lasts around 20 minutes but, even with the best speeches, graduates are fortunate if they remember just a few lines. Winston Churchill, in 1941, addressed a graduating class with more than 15 pages of text, all of his words no doubt well chosen and offering great insights into human affairs. I can almost guarantee that those graduates probably quickly forgot 99 percent of the address, but they could never forget his six most powerful words, which now are famous. He told them, “Never give in; never, never, never.”
I often thought, at the risk of second-guessing one of that century’s
greatest orators, that it would have been more powerful and even more poignant
if Churchill would have merely proclaimed those six words and then returned
to his seat without another syllable.
While preparing my comments, I thought, “What could I possibly say that would be meaningful and personal to all the unique individuals here today — what message might you retain for 30 years?”
Dr. Morscheck's secrets were as follows:
Do your best in everything you do. Build relationships of trust and mutual concern. See every problem as an opportunity for improvement. Get involved. Be slow to take offense.
If an organization displeases you, join it and make it better.
Give constructive criticism in a civil and sympathetic manner. Give credit where credit is due. Speak truth to power. Speak truth to everyone.
Give time to people. Rejoice in diversity of all kinds. Show up. Be curious. Listen. Care. Read. Write. Practice your skills and acquire new ones.
Think and reflect. Exercise your imagination. Insist upon good planning. Be part of the planning process. Understand the relationships between things.
Take advantage of the cultural resources wherever you live. Exploit the intellectual resources of your community.
Find a mentor. Be a mentor. Make friends. Be a friend. Love someone.
Practice random and systematic acts of kindness. Deserve to be proud of yourself.
Find your calling and follow it. Cultivate your gifts and put them to the service of others. Learn through service. Enjoy your work.
Eat and rest well. Conserve resources. Grow and flourish. Practice peacemaking. Love your God.
And don’t try all of this at once.
Congratulations, Class of 2000. The great adventure now begins.
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