Commencement Address Fall 2018
Graduating students, University colleagues, and most especially families and friends: Welcome to UT Dallas.
And a special welcome to those watching online.
The celebration of those receiving degrees today relies on the collective efforts of the University staff and faculty — and it does have some long-standing traditions and some theatrical elements.
But the bottom line is that we don’t do this for our own enjoyment.
We do this for you.
So, as your hosts on this special day, it is our goal to make it one with meaning and significance — the kind of day that you will fondly remember.
This fall, we have certified 1,524 undergraduates to receive bachelor’s degrees and 1,189 graduate students for master’s degrees. We also are awarding 70 doctoral degrees and 1 audiology degree.
We are holding seven commencement ceremonies and one doctoral hooding ceremony over three days.
This is probably an appropriate time to commend the members of the stage party for patiently sitting through my remarks, ceremony after ceremony.
Family and friends, I hope that you have spotted your student in the chairs. In a short time, they will cross this stage.
Each student whose name will be announced during this ceremony has achieved a goal to complete their studies.
They have found support and encouragement — from those who have taught and guided them while here, and from family members and friends who made it all possible.
To the graduating students, this day marks a rite of passage. It is a public affirmation of your hard work and determination.
It is also a day when each of you earns a new title — you can proudly call yourself a graduate of UT Dallas.
That is an honor that you share with more than 100,000 alumni around the world.
Clearly, students, UT Dallas is a better place because you have been here.
And our communities will be better because of what you have learned and accomplished here.
We have numerous examples of the ways that you have made a difference:
- You came together on a single day to be a part of Viva Volunteer — to help with agencies in our communities.
- You mentored your peers or helped schoolchildren in the community.
- You applied your computer skills to create technologies that helped with global and local issues.
- You tutored senior citizens and tended the community gardens.
Many of you represented UT Dallas in competitive arenas that range from athletic fields and courts to mock courtrooms and chess boards.
Some of you pitched business ideas and embraced entrepreneurship. Others creatively expressed themselves through music, art, dance and performance.
And then there are those of you who adapted your lives to not only be students, but to also be parents or grandparents, to be employees and employers.
I applaud each and every one of you for navigating the rigors of academic life … AND for finding ways to connect with the world beyond our campus boundaries.
Students, I hope that in your time here, that you have found UT Dallas to be a home for you in all of your endeavors.
The concept of home is a powerful one.
And like any good concept, it has been explored by researchers over the years.
As newly minted scholars, you will appreciate that the concept of “home” has been categorized and defined by researchers.
- home as a symbol of how we see ourselves and want to be seen by others;
- home as a place for self-expression and purposeful activities;
- and home as a familiar environment that promotes a sense of belonging.
I have called many places home — from the residence in which I was raised in New Jersey to the ones where I lived while pursuing my degrees and to the ones that I created with my wife and children.
My career path also led me to many offices and classrooms that were homes for my pursuits. And now I have found myself at home right here, at UT Dallas.
Let’s hear from some of your fellow students about this place in which we’ve found a home:
No doubt, when you chose to come here, it wasn’t yet home for you. Then at some point, this place became familiar.
It’s where you’ve made friends — many of whom will be in your life for years to come.
It’s where you’ve made new memories.
It’s where you’ve developed your intellect and shaped your independence.
It’s where you’ve been inspired, involved and included.
As T.S. Eliot said — Home is where one starts from.
Which ties in with the significance of this ceremony — the point in which you commence — or start — the next phase of your journey.
So, enjoy this special day and all that comes after. And remember your home here at 800 West Campbell Road in Richardson.
We’ll always be happy to welcome you home again.
We are proud of you.