2012 Spring Graduate Commencement Ceremony

Below are President Glasser's remarks from the Spring Graduate Commencement Ceremony on May 10, 2012.

Distinguished guests, trustees, faculty, staff, students and our 2012 graduates, it is with great honor that I welcome you to Bradley University’s spring graduate commencement ceremony.

Tonight we celebrate students who chose to pursue their education beyond a bachelor’s degree. That is no small feat. Through dedication and diligence, you are prepared to be leaders in education, industry, medicine, social services — whatever field you choose. Today you leave Bradley as the beneficiaries of a world-class education — one that I believe has prepared you well for whatever comes next, including the unexpected.

Look around at your classmates. No two of you had the same academic experience – even those in the same programs or with the same faculty advisers. Your distinctive, individual interests, your special abilities and your dreams for the future have molded your graduate education.

You are now more informed, more experienced and better prepared members of society. For many of you, earning your graduate degree means you’ll start a new career path. For others, you are positioned for a promotion or a raise. Those are important, too. Besides doing well in your chosen professions, I encourage you to dedicate yourselves to become servant leaders to make our society a better place for all.  Find your passion in community service and give back.

As Henry Ford, the great-grandfather of our undergraduate commencement speaker on Saturday, once said: To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.

Your graduate education is so important, and I am confident it will help make you successful, but what you do with it to help others is even more important. You will no doubt be busy as you start your new journey, but busy is not new to you. On top of juggling homework, projects, exams and papers, many of you also have jobs and families, hobbies and social lives. I can imagine you have felt overwhelmed at times thinking it just is not possible to take on any more. 

But consider what our society, our nation, would be if we did not embrace the needs of others. What if service was not among our core values? For one thing, we wouldn’t be here tonight if Lydia Moss Bradley hadn’t been committed to providing for others. She could have invested her fortune in any number of ways that would have been more financially profitable than a university. Her options were limitless. But profit wasn’t her motive … service and making a difference were.

The point is there is work to be done – by each of you. There are immeasurable ways – both large and small – to make a difference to benefit humanity. All are equally valuable.  Find your niche, whatever that is.  Run for your local school board, like alum Aaron Shock did, a decision that initiated his path of servant leadership. Join the PTA. Read to a child. Be a Big Brother or Big Sister. Organize a bake sale at your church or volunteer with a local fundraiser. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, I’m simply asking you to “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are.”

Service binds us to each other in a way that nothing else can. And it makes our communities richer in ways far beyond dollars and cents.

Our commencement speaker tonight exemplifies servant leadership. The Honorable James Shadid has had an outstanding career in public service – one that began during his days on this campus in the late 1970s. Some of you may have read about Judge Shadid from the Bradley Athletics Hall of Fame. A former standout baseball player, Judge Shadid was the team’s M-V-P in 1977 and 1978.

While still a student, Judge Shadid also volunteered at Whittier School, coaching basketball and reading to students. He served as a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and parked cars at our beloved Robertson Memorial Field House. He was learning at a young age the value of making a contribution, of giving back.

After graduation in 1979, Judge Shadid played minor league baseball in big sky Montana but soon decided that law was his calling. Jim earned his law degree from John Marshall Law School and became a private attorney, and a part-time public defender.

Judge Shadid became known for sharing his expertise outside the courtroom, speaking to young students and encouraging them to stay in school and to pursue higher education. That connection with grade school students began at Bradley.

In 2001, Judge Shadid was appointed circuit judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit of Illinois, winning election to the court soon after. He served the state court with distinction and honor, earning a reputation for fairness, understanding and compassion, attributes vital for any judge.

In February 2010, Senator Dick Durbin recommended Judge Shadid for a seat on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois. President Barack Obama nominated him to the federal bench, and that nomination was unanimously approved by the U.S. Senate. … To be unanimously approved by the Senate during a time of extreme partisan divide is quite an accomplishment. I believe that is a testament to Judge Shadid’s character, integrity and impeccable judgment. And earlier this year he became chief judge of the federal circuit, a sign of respect and confidence of his peers.

Away from the bench, Judge Shadid has given back to the community, too, serving on the boards of PARC, the Pediatric Resource Center, and the Greater Peoria Sanitary District, and being recognized with the 40 Leaders Under 40 Award.

He has had a strong presence on the Hilltop as well, teaching classes and speaking to student groups about government and the law. And last Founder’s Day, he became a member of the Centurion Society, the highest award an alumnus can receive.

I’d like to share one story about Judge Shadid. In his current role he conducts naturalization ceremonies that confirm United States citizenship on people who chose to come to our country. During his first naturalization ceremony last July, Judge Shadid displayed a copy of his grandfather’s citizenship certificate from 1930. It was his grandfather’s citizenship, Judge Shadid said, that gave him the opportunity to become a judge.

The message to these new citizens was clear: they could go anywhere their intellect and ambition would carry them. This message extends to our Bradley graduates here today as well. You, too, can go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. The world is open to you because of your degree from Bradley University.

Graduates, like Judge Shadid, I urge you to find your niche, get involved and contribute in your own unique ways. I know you are prepared to do good work – superior work – in any field you enter. Use your education to make a difference in our tomorrow.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, graduate Class of 2012, it is my honor to present to you our commencement speaker, Chief United States District Judge of the Central District of Illinois, the Honorable James Shadid.