2011 Winter Commencement Ceremony

Below are President Glasser's remarks from the Winter Commencement Ceremony on December 17, 2011.

It is hard to believe this is my fifth December commencement at Bradley. It seems that time passes faster each year. I am sure there have been a few instances in the last few years where it seemed as though your clock was in slow motion — maybe that last five minutes of class before spring break or the ride back to campus in August — but I would bet that for most of your Bradley experience, time passed too quickly.

As you reflect on the years you spent on the Hilltop, each of you will hold onto different memories. This is a moment to reflect on those special times. … Perhaps meeting your freshman roommate for the first time, or acing that midterm you studied so hard for, or walking to Bacci with friends for pizza after Late Night BU. However different your experiences were, what you all have in common is a Bradley education that will help you reach your goals and seize the many opportunities that will come your way.

It is hard to believe how much has happened since you first stepped onto our campus. The progress you have experienced on the Hilltop has been remarkable. You were here when we opened the Markin Center, hosted the first concert in the Renaissance Coliseum and dedicated the Alumni Center. And yes, you were the first to park in the new Main Street deck. That convenience is important on our campus, too.

You may have witnessed more physical changes on our campus than at any time since our founding. The changes in the past four years made me think back to all that has happened on the Hilltop. Did you know that one hundred years ago, there were just three buildings on campus — Bradley Hall, Horology Hall, and Hewitt Gymnasium — and just 350 students?

Yes, 1911 was a different time. Only eight in 100 American homes had a telephone, and only 14 in 100 had a bathtub. The average hourly wage in the United States was 22 cents, the price today of one stick of gum. And only 6 percent of the American population held a high school diploma. Think of how far our society, our country and our university have come in 100 years. Think of how much more change you’ll experience in your lifetime.

Today you enter a world that is significantly different from just four years ago, let alone 100 years ago. The rotary dial phone of 1911 has gone the way of the typewriter. For many of you, texting has replaced Email. Technology has changed the way we communicate, instantaneously spreading information across the community and around the globe. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not only part of the social network, they contributed to the Arab Spring in the Middle East, demonstrating the power of technology to spread democracy and be a force for good.

What will be the next transformational creation? You and your peers will determine that. You will imagine, create – and then bring to the market – the next breakthrough in engineering, the arts or business. You will develop the next great idea to resolve a government logjam, or reach disadvantaged students in the classroom, or return the American economy to pre-eminence.

Every generation faces problems and every generation has problem solvers, those who embrace difficult tasks and find original solutions. I challenge you to be the thinkers, the risk takers, the inventors, the innovators, and the leaders for your generation. I am confident you can be the game changers of tomorrow.

You are prepared to meet the challenges of the future because you have a Bradley education, and you know how to find answers, think creatively and work collaboratively.

When your hard work pays off, there is a tendency to think you have been lucky. I have never been a big believer in luck. Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock had this view of luck: I am a great believer in luck, he said, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it. The Roman philosopher Seneca had a similar outlook when he said: Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.

I know you’re hard work and preparation will create many opportunities. Seize them.

And if you don’t come across as many as you’d like, create your own. As writer Curtis Grant put it: Having the world’s best idea will do you no good unless you act on it. People who want milk shouldn’t sit on a stool in the middle of a field in hopes that a cow will back up to them.

So go find your cow. Take that first step. That’s often the hardest part of the journey, but if you wait until all conditions are perfect before you do something, life will pass you by. So let me give you some presidential advice … some motherly advice. Time is precious. Each moment, each day is valuable. Use them all wisely because you can’t ever get them back.

Sure, there are risks involved with creating opportunities, and sometimes you will fail. But don’t hide from failure, learn from it.

Most importantly, have fun. Have fun with your wins and your losses, though I know the victories certainly will be sweeter.

And that brings me to my second piece of advice: Do what you love. Do what makes you happy. Life is too short. There are no do-overs. Remember what I said about time. It is fleeting. Make the most of every day.

While none of us knows what the next hours or days or years will hold, take comfort in your Bradley education and be confident in yourselves, as I am confident in you. Your education is far more than a collection of facts and grades. It has given you the ability to conceive new ideas, to imagine new possibilities, to be a great learner and, as I often say, to dream. So I encourage you to continue to dream big dreams. You are equipped to make them come true.

I hope you leave this ceremony with some valuable advice. Life moves fast. Tomorrow will be here quickly. While no one can predict what the future holds, you have the education and skills to seize opportunities and to create your own. While I can’t give you a recipe for success – I wish I could – I am sure your Bradley education, mixed with some confidence, a dose of determination, a pinch of passion, and a cup of creativity will serve you well on the next steps in your life’s journey.

Thank you, graduates, for sharing your lives with this university. Thank you for all you have brought into my life. Thank you to the friends and family here today for your support. Thank you to the faculty and staff for sharing your knowledge and skills with our students.

I’d like to conclude with the wise advice of philosopher Henry David Thoreau who said: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you’ve imagined.

Graduates, I look forward to your future and to seeing all that you will achieve. Class of 2011, congratulations, go forth and do great things.