Published May 15, 2016
Good morning, everyone! Welcome to all our families and honored guests.
I also want to take a moment to recognize and thank my friend and colleague Dr. Bruce Pitman as he prepares to return to the faculty after five years of outstanding service as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.
Most of all, congratulations to the Class of 2016! As graduates, you will have a permanent place of honor in UB’s proud history—and our bright future.
You will make history and will shape the future of your professions because of what you learned here—and how you will pass that knowledge on to others.
Your achievements are the outcome of: your ethical pursuit of knowledge, inquiry, and discovery; your embrace of new ideas, new modes of thinking; and your commitment to collaboration, intellectual exchange, and dialogue across borders of all kinds—disciplinary, ideological, and cultural.
These are the intellectual values we prize above all at UB. They are what we seek to instill in all of our students as we prepare you for global leadership in your fields. As students, you have lived these values each day.
Now, as alumni and UB-educated global citizens, you will carry these values with you out into the world.
As you have learned, engaging with multiple and conflicting points of view is richly rewarding, but seldom easy. This year, universities across the nation have been the site of intense debate about what it means to create and sustain a genuinely inclusive campus environment.
Here at UB, for example, we have grappled together with how to negotiate the boundaries of freedom of expression, within an inclusive, welcoming academic community.
These are difficult, but necessary, conversations. And there is great and enduring value in them. Exploring difficult concepts from multiple points of view is key to what we do as an academic community. And it is critical to leading and contributing meaningfully in every discipline and every profession.
When you are established in your careers and look back at your time at UB, I expect what you will remember above all are the people you lived and learned with here.
You will remember the most difficult concepts in your field because you learned them through conversations with peers who challenged you to reach farther—dig deeper.
You will remember vigorously debating competing ideas and controversial theories with students who saw the world differently than you.
You will remember the experience of getting to know a new roommate or lab partner from a culture very different from your own. And what you learned by looking through their eyes will continue to shape who you are and how you see the world in the future.
Together with the concepts, theories, and practical techniques you have mastered in the lecture hall, library, and classroom, this is what you will take with you into your professional lives.
The communities you serve will be healthier and stronger for these values, whether that means bringing a cross-cultural perspective into your workplace and your neighborhood; collaborating across fields and institutions to solve the urgent challenges of the 21 century; or working to ensure equitable access to social, cultural, and economic opportunities in your communities and on a national and global level.
In today’s globalized world, we need educated citizens just like you—collaborative leaders whose perspectives have been shaped by engaging with multiple points of view.
Class of 2016, as you prepare to take up the next great challenge in your lives, know that your alma mater is deeply proud of you. And we look forward to all that you will achieve and contribute in the future. Congratulations!