Commencement 2021

Delivered May 15, 2021

On behalf of our entire university community, I would like to welcome all of the family members and friends joining us for this historic celebration.

Today marks not only a major milestone for our graduates, but for our university, as we celebrate UB’s 175th commencement exercises. Given our very recent history, I believe I speak for many when I say how delightful it is to celebrate our graduating class in person! Thank you.

And with that, I would now like to congratulate the College of Arts and Sciences’ Undergraduate Class of 2021!

Graduates, you have made all of us very proud. When you joined our scholarly community, you could not have envisioned that you would be completing your degree requirements in the throes of a global pandemic. And yet—despite the turbulence—you adapted. Amid the uncertainty, you persevered. And through it all, you showed an exceptional capacity for resilience.

In physics, resilience is the ability of a material to return to its original state after it has been strained. In our lives, it is the ability to rebound from adversity. These setbacks may cause disappointment…frustration…
anxiety. They may take great pains to overcome. But if we have done our jobs at UB, you have learned
how to convert obstacles into opportunities.

Unlike in physics, you do not return to your “original state” following a challenge. Instead, you grow wiser
with the experience…more creative in solving problems…more nimble in your mindset…more compassionate with yourself and others.

In the book “Letter to My Daughter,” Maya Angelou wrote: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

Graduates, throughout your academic journey, I have been so inspired by your unwavering dedication to excellence. You have shown it in the midst of great flux—and, in periods of calm. The disciplinary expertise
you have gained as a result will serve you well in all of your future endeavors.

When you combine that expertise with the resilience you have developed, truly, no challenge is too great. You are well equipped to: solve pressing problems; contribute to a more just, more equitable society; and make a profound imprint on our world.

Throughout UB’s 175-year history, our commitment to harnessing our ideas and our innovations for the greater good has remained a unifying constant. Class of 2021, thank you for embracing that narrative in your pursuit of social justice and service to our communities. We look forward to seeing all that you accomplish in the next chapter.

And if I may offer some advice before I conclude. As you advance through life: stay bold in your pursuits, but humble in your accomplishments; stay resilient in the face of challenges, but firm in your core values; and, finally, please stay connected with your UB family!