Published May 18, 2014
Good morning! I want to welcome all the families and honored guests with us today.
Most of all, congratulations to the Class of 2014! You’re the reason we are gathered today—to celebrate your achievements and share our best wishes for your future.
This year we celebrate the 100 anniversary of the College of Arts and Sciences—now our largest and most comprehensive school.
Like the College, the University at Buffalo has grown considerably in size and scope over the years.
Today, we are one of the world’s great research universities, with a global impact. But our core academic mission has not changed.
That mission is simple. It is to prepare you, our students, to lead and contribute in the world around you.
I am probably not the first to tell you that you are graduating into an uncertain future. But I can assure you that you are well prepared for this unpredictable world.
That’s because over the past four years at UB, you have been studying, experimenting, and practicing not just for the “now” but for the future—for jobs and societal roles that may not yet exist.
As a result, you are ready to solve unknown challenges, anticipate unseen trends, and answer questions no one has thought of yet.
More than ever, you are the kind of educated citizens our global world needs in the 21st century.
The global perspective, intellectual nimbleness, and hands-on experience that you’ve gained as UB students will serve you well.
You will find that these qualities are in high demand, in every field.
Let me give you one example. Google is one of the world’s leading tech companies, and competition for jobs there is fierce.
Recently the New York Times talked with Google’s chief human resources officer about the criteria they use in hiring for these coveted positions.
His answer was illuminating.
You might expect he named things like class rank, transcripts, test scores, and demonstrated aptitude in computer science and coding.
Instead, more than any of these traditional measures, Google considers a very personal set of characteristics in choosing employees. Those include a love for constant learning, a capacity for both leadership and collaboration, and a combination of intellectual boldness and humility—the ability to take risks while learning from failure.
These are precisely the hallmarks that UB graduates are well-known for, wherever they go.
As alumni, you will carry these values with you, too.
These values are critical because they are the necessary ingredients for genuine innovation. This is important because innovation is not just the province of science and technology.
It is the foundation of discovery, original thought, and creative expression in every field—from the fine arts and philosophy to the study of language and the practice of law.
Preparing students for lifelong learning and innovation is exactly what a university education is designed to do.
As UB students, you have been actively engaged in the creation and sharing of new knowledge that changes the face of your field.
And so you’ve learned that your ideas matter greatly.
As a result, you are ready to make a profound difference as the next generation of global leaders in your fields.
As UB graduates, you are ready to take what you’ve learned—and how you have learned—and use it to open new doors, for yourself and for those around you.
Now we are all eager to see what doors you will open next—what innovations you will make with your UB education.
Congratulations! And all best wishes for much success!