2011 Spring Commencement Ceremony

Below are President Glasser's remarks from the Spring Commencement Ceremony on May 14, 2011.

Distinguished guests, trustees, faculty, staff, students and these special graduates of spring 2011: thank you for joining me for this time-honored celebration, the passing from one stage on life’s journey to another.

Today shows us the power of opportunity. For each of you, that started with your first visit to the hilltop. You came to our campus to embrace endless possibilities, to discover new ideas and new friends, and to find your way toward the future. The opportunities for knowledge and experiences you have encountered at Bradley have helped prepare you for what lies ahead.

You know the power of opportunity firsthand. You’ve experienced it through the organizations you’ve led, through the volunteer work you’ve done, though the internships you’ve completed, and through the many different experiences you’ve had on the hilltop.

This commencement is really just the beginning, not the epilogue.

Let me share the story of one graduate whose name you are familiar with, one graduate who – like you – discovered great opportunity on the hilltop and used that to make a mark on our nation.

This student was the son of an immigrant cabinet maker and a household domestic. At a time few attended college, he understood that education was the gateway to a better life. But his education was interrupted by a great war, in which he volunteered and served with valor and courage.

He returned to Bradley but – like so many others – was uncertain what the future had in store. Yet others saw vast potential in his intellect and his passion for public service. Indeed, it was the Bradley University President who saw great things for this young patriot and he recommended him for a job to the newly elected congressman.

This Bradley grad went on to become the Congressman’s aide and successor. Robert H. Michel served 38 years in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was a confidante of presidents and a shaper of America’s future. He also had the wisdom to hire and encourage our keynote speaker, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray Lahood.

Robert H. Michel – yes, the individual whose name is honored on our student center – found an opportunity at Bradley and that opportunity changed our world – for the better.

I believe you, too, have an opportunity to make a significant impact. … and I am confident that you will.

The class of 2011 is particularly special to me because four years ago, I arrived on the hilltop just as you did. I, too, was a freshman and during that time we both have witnessed many wonderful experiences. Among my fondest memories have been meeting so many of you and watching you blossom.

Much has changed in these four years on our campus. We began a groundbreaking sports communications program, graduated our first D-P-T class, and created a unique pre-law center. Our academic programs are moving us toward being a university of national distinction.

We celebrated the openings of the fabulous Markin Center and the spectacular Renaissance Coliseum. Can you imagine our campus without them, without Late Night BU, without presidential office hours? All of those started since you’ve arrived.

Our academic initiatives and our Campaign for a Bradley Renaissance have helped increase the value of a Bradley diploma. You’ve done your part by embracing leadership opportunities and giving back to the university. We have moved forward together.

You will look back at this time as personally life-changing, and we will see it as a transformational period in the history of our institution. In many ways, as Dickens wrote, these have been the best of times.

19th century philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

Graduates, you have lived and learned those lessons. You have excelled academically, and now you are going on to medical school and law school, and many are starting what will be significant careers. Yes, parents, there is employment in the future.

You have taken advantage of all Bradley has to offer. And you have left footprints on our campus and on my heart. For all you’ve accomplished, you all deserve a round of applause (applause). Well done.

With this Bradley degree, you’ll unlock the potential that resides inside you. You now have the opportunity to write your own success story, one achievement at a time.

Like Robert Michel, Bradley has given you the power of opportunity – and you’ve become part of our exceptional club.

Before I conclude, let me give you some presidential advice, perhaps some motherly advice. After all, this is the last time our family will all be together. So let’s envision we’re sitting around the kitchen table.

Here is my counsel:

Be special – every day and in every way.

Know your limits – then push past them.

Set an example -- and then top it.

Don’t settle for second best – you can be more than that.

Give back – the reward will be worth it.

Open a door for someone, just like others have opened doors for you.

Stay involved with Bradley and spread the word to others about the Bradley experience.

Our great 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, said, “in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”

So I challenge you to invest in what’s now, and what’s next.

Persevere. Create a legacy that matters.

Learn. Grow. Do both again and again. Make the world your campus.

I’ll challenge you with a last piece of advice from Emerson: “do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Turn the Bradley experience into the results you want, the career you deserve -- the life that really counts. Embrace every opportunity before you.

I stand here extremely proud and humbled to be awarding you these degrees from Bradley University. Now, go out achieve your success.

Congratulations graduates of 2011, enjoy today and seize tomorrow.