Office of the President

Commencement Address Summer 2021

Aug. 10, 2021

I, too, join in welcoming to UT Dallas all of our returning graduates, my University colleagues – and most especially the families and friends who are in attendance and watching online.

Graduates – your achievements during these extraordinary times deserve our admiration. I am so pleased that we have this opportunity to celebrate with you in person.

It is also important to acknowledge how difficult the last 18 months have been and to express my gratitude to all of the remarkable people that ensured that UT Dallas could continue to provide a safe environment for education and research.

Education and research are the core of our mission. We exist  to help expand knowledge and develop expertise, and in turn to benefit our world.

Lee Bollinger, the long-serving president of Columbia University, when addressing the 2021 graduates of his university, said:

“Never has society more desperately needed to reap the benefits of science, newly discovered knowledge, and the pursuit of truth. How, otherwise, can we possibly pretend to be sufficiently equipped to comprehend and to come to terms with the world?”

In that statement, President Bollinger was reflecting on the role of higher education; and I submit that this also applies every bit as much to graduates of UT Dallas as it does to graduates of Columbia University.

The benefits of your knowledge and expertise are greatly needed now. One might even say desperately needed.

You entered UT Dallas with a plan for your personal development and success, but I doubt that any of you foresaw the disruptions under which your degree pursuits would end.

But, in its own unwelcome way, the pandemic became part of your education. It necessarily endowed you with a deep understanding of perseverance and fostering community.

You are wiser as a result, and for the rest of your life, you will draw from this wealth of knowledge and experience.

One expects that college graduates are better as a result for the time that they spent at their university. I, of course, believe that has been the case for you at UT Dallas.

But, I am here to tell you that the reciprocal is also true. UT Dallas was made better because you were here. I know that I speak for all on the faculty and staff in saying thank you!

Thank you for choosing UT Dallas for your studies.

Thank you for making the faculty, and staff, and your fellow students better by your presence.

And, thank you, in advance, for all you will do as an exemplar of the best of a UT Dallas-educated professional.

I applaud you all and look forward to seeing the ways in which you will continue to make a difference beyond our campus boundaries.

We are proud you! Whoooooosh!