2003 University Commencement Remarks

Richard L. McCormick, President

Louis Brown Athletic Center
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Piscataway, New Jersey
Thursday, May 22, 2003 - 9 a.m.

Thank you Dr. Samuels and warm greetings and welcome to everyone who is with us this morning. Today is a day of joy and celebration for the Rutgers family, and it is joyous indeed to have all of you here.

Universities like Rutgers are ancient institutions, going back hundreds of years. The colorful costumes worn by those on this platform are themselves ancient in origin, and they symbolize the many different disciplines, institutions, degrees, and traditions that are represented here. But universities like Rutgers are also modern. The research and creativity of our faculty, the learning of our graduates, and the contributions of our alumni to their communities and to the world all speak to the urgencies and the opportunities of the 21st century.

Today we express and affirm our university's values, both ancient and modern, and the most fitting way to do that is to celebrate our graduates. They are the most recent expressions of the values we cherish — equality of opportunity to learn, freedom of inquiry, and service to society.

Approximately 10,000 men and women will graduate this year from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Many of them are here, but many of them will be awarded their degrees in separate ceremonies across our three campuses. All of the graduates have completed one phase of their formal education, and all are well prepared for the challenging work and programs of study to which they have now chosen to devote themselves.

Each of them has worked hard and has sacrificed to earn the degrees they now receive. So let me become the first formally to congratulate today's graduates and ask everyone, including the graduates, to join me in congratulating and applauding the Rutgers University Class of 2003. Please know that your university, especially the faculty with whom you have studied, are very, very proud of you. Each of you has our fond best wishes for all that lies ahead.

None of today's graduates would be here without the support of their family and friends, their parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, and other loved ones. So please now join me in thanking and applauding the families of our graduates. Rutgers appreciates and highly values what you have done to support those who are graduating today.

To our graduates and their families alike, please share with us the responsibility for ensuring that those who come to study at Rutgers in the years ahead will receive the same quality of education that today's graduates have had. This means joining with us in asking the elected officials of our state to support Rutgers and specifically to restore our budget, which has been proposed for a 12 percent cut effective July 1, 2003. Those cuts, if enacted, will reduce the numbers of students we can admit and will threaten the quality of education available to future Rutgers students. Postcards addressed to the key leaders in our legislature are available for your use in expressing support for Rutgers. Please take the time to fill them out today.

And now we must proceed with our commencement ceremony. Thank you for your support for Rutgers and congratulations on the achievements we celebrate today.