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Commencement Address

Dr. Steven A. Scott, President, Pittsburg State University

December 17, 2011


Good afternoon and welcome…It is my distinct honor to be here and to bring greetings and congratulatory remarks on behalf of Pittsburg State University.  As President, it is my responsibility to ensure that this outstanding institution of higher education continues to stay focused on its mission of serving our students, the region, this great state, and, indeed, the world.  The graduates who we are recognizing this afternoon provide ample evidence that we are continuing to succeed in that regard. 

Before I go on, I want to address the events of a week ago where the university announced changes in the commencement ceremony.  While we acted with what we thought were good intentions and with students and families in mind, it’s clear we fell well short of making anyone’s life better.  In fact, we created disruptions and strife to such a level that families were truly, truly unhappy with the university.  For that and on behalf of the university, I apologize.  I hope the additional ceremony and the follow up changes we introduced within 24 hours of the initial announcement provided a way for graduates and families to experience this special occasion just as you had envisioned.   

As the discussion unfolded and your concerns were expressed, I was reminded how important this ceremony is to graduates and families.  While we may produce 6 of these ceremonies annually, for each of you, it’s a once in a lifetime moment.  I promise that fact will never be forgotten, and it will guide our approach to commencement planning as long as I am president.

I told someone recently I’ve not missed a commencement ceremony that I was supposed to attend since arriving at Pittsburg State in the fall of 1988 as an assistant professor in education.  Well, there was that one where I was sick, and the doctor told me to stay home.  Other than that I’ve always been here; it is the campus event I look forward to the most; and I’m honored to share in the experience of today’s commencement ceremony with each of you.

Now, on with my comments...  Graduates, congratulations.  I’m proud of you, and I’m proud of your accomplishments.  And I’m excited about your future.  Thank you for making a part of your life’s journey pass through Pittsburg State.  We’re better off because you’ve been a part of the university, and we know that you’ve grown and developed during your time here.

To our faculty and staff, I say, ‘Great job!’  You’ve recruited, advised, supported, taught, and challenged another awesome group of graduates.  I appreciate the many times you went the extra mile to ensure these graduates would succeed…and succeed they have.

To all the spouses, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, family and friends your attendance this evening is particularly important.  Your love and support has been critical to the success of these graduates and I’m sure they are appreciative of you.

This afternoon, I have a very brief message for you, and I’ll only quote one individual.   On October 5th, the world lost a person of incredible stature.  He wasn’t a political leader, he wasn’t a great novelist, and he wasn’t a gifted athlete, and some people didn’t even know much about him. Yet, he in many ways changed the world in which we live, and you more than any other generation have been touched by his magic.  His name of course is Steve Jobs, Founder and CEO of Apple Computer.  I want to share with you some remarks he made in 2005 in a commencement address he delivered at Stanford University.  His battle with cancer had changed the way he looked at life, and he offered some compelling advice that is relevant to us all.  But most importantly, it is relevant to you…the class of 2011.  Here’s what he had to say…

Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My wish for you is that this place has helped you find your love and that the days ahead are full of success as you embrace that love and make a life of it. 

Congratulations graduates…great job…best wishes!