Chancellor's Friday Letters

Credo for my students

Credo for my students

June 10, 2011

Dear Friends,

This weekend is commencement – a time of celebration and dreams fulfilled.  I would like to share with you the remarks I will give as our graduating UCR students embark on the next stage in their lives.

* * * * * * * *

Welcome Class of 2011.

I too bring greetings to our graduates from the faculty, staff, and alumni of UC Riverside, as well as your fellow students.

Greetings also to the proud parents, family members and friends who are here today.  My wife Karen and I congratulate you, and we share our hopes for greatness in your future. . . .

While you do not know everything, you do know enough to conquer everything that lies in your way.  You have within you the seeds of greatness as a person . . . as a professional . . . and as a leader who lifts up your community and our country and moves it forward.

While we should each be proud of the way we look on the outside – what matters is what we do from the inside:  the heart, soul, mind, integrity, work ethic and moral compass.

I was at a restaurant recently called “Credo,” which if you recall your Latin, means. “I believe.” The walls of the art deco basement were replete with the sayings of the famous, and sometimes the infamous.  They ranged from the profound to the egomaniacal, from the humorous to the eclectic.

So with the word of those who have walked before you on this twisting, surprising adventure that is life, let me weave this story:

  • “I believe that dreams – daydreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing – are likely to lead to the betterment of the world.”

This was the advice of Frank Baum, who wrote “The Wizard of Oz.”

Whereas comedian Richard Pryor wanted us to keep our feet more firmly planted on the ground:

  • “I believe the ability to think is blessed.  If you can think about a situation, you can deal with it.  The big struggle is to keep your head clear enough to think.”

He might have found some support in California writer John Steinbeck, who said,

  • “I believe that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.”

Whereas Thomas Jefferson was more concerned about community service:

  • “I believe that every human mind feels pleasure in doing good to another.”

And Italian philosopher Umberto Eco, perhaps better known for his novel, “The Name of the Rose,” rather darkly challenges us with:

  • “I believe that you can reach the point where there is no longer any difference between developing the habit of pretending to believe and developing the habit of believing.”

He might have enjoyed debating with biochemist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who would have fit in very well in a classroom on this campus saying,

  • “I believe in evidence.  I believe in observation, measurement and reasoning confirmed by independent observers.” . . .  before going on to challenge us with . . .  “I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it.”

Actor Jack Nicholson wastes no words:

  • “The minute you’re not learning, I believe you’re dead.”

Whereas Winston Churchill, with a modesty becoming of a Highlander – the modesty of a world leader but the swagger I expect in a graduate of UCR – proclaims:

  • “We are all worms.  But I believe that I am a glow-worm.”

And finally, if this is all too cerebral for you on this happy day, comedian Ron White’s advice is, (no relative by the way)

  • “I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade . . .  and try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka and have a party.”

* * * * * * * *

Starting tonight, the first of our seven commencement ceremonies will begin with 610 undergraduate business majors and MBA students receiving their degrees.

All told, 4500 students are graduating from UC Riverside this year – quite a contrast to the first graduating class of 1954, which contained 20 students. Close to 33,000 friends and family are planning to come and watch their loved ones graduate.

You can imagine the thrill that will be for the families of almost 2000 of those students who are the first in their family to graduate from college.  You can imagine our pride and joy as we watch this phalanx of accomplished students, many of whom have defied all odds and bucked national trends, as they march off to fulfill their hopes and dreams and make this world a better place.



Tim White, Chancellor

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Commencement fever
This weekend is all about celebrating the achievements of the class of 2011. Many of you sent wonderful greetings that are helping us provide well-deserved pomp and circumstance to our nearly 4,500 graduates. See some of those greetings, videos, photos, as well as a place to watch the ceremonies online.

Inside story on UCR
The Spring issue of UCR’s magazine offers the inside story about research that protects humans from the pesky mosquito, as well as a spread on UCR arts students and the recent news highlights. An online version of the magazine includes videos.

Music of war and peace
Just before Memorial Day, talented UCR musicians put together a moving concert that fit with this year’s theme for the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences. Our UCR Choral Society – founded at about the same time as the campus – performed a concert with the Chamber Singers and the UCR orchestra called “The Music of War and Peace.” Hear some of it online.

Find out what else is going on at UC Riverside: http://www.ucr.edu/happenings/

More Information

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