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Dr. E. Gordon Gee imparts advice, wisdom to graduates at Spring Commencement

May 13, 2009 -- Along with long-awaited diplomas, Arkansas State University’s class of 2009 received a few more words of wisdom and valuable advice from one of the nation’s most highly regarded and respected university presidents during Saturday’s two commencement ceremonies at the Convocation Center at 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Dr. E. Gordon Gee, The Ohio State University’s president, was the featured speaker at both of ASU’s ceremonies which bestowed doctoral, master’s, and bachelor’s degreesDr. E. Gordon Gee speaks to the graduating class of ASU-Jonesboro at Spring Commencement 2009. upon approximately 1,100 graduates from the Jonesboro campus. Dr. Gee alternately entertained and offered sage advice to the overflow crowd of graduates, faculty, families, and guests.

After admitting he couldn’t recall who the speaker was at his own commencement, he told the congregation seriously, “Without question, the world is a challenging place to navigate just now. The world is very different than it was four years ago when many students were just getting started at Arkansas State. Perhaps the most stark differences are in the economy.”

Dr. Gee encouraged the graduates, telling them the world needs them now more than ever. “I firmly believe that every challenge presents us with enormous opportunities, and I believe that your generation is uniquely up to that task.”

He also told the group that its generation is the most optimistic and involved generation he has ever seen in nearly four decades of academic service.

“You care and you want to understand,” he said.   “And you want to make the world a better and more just place."

Dr. Gee returned to OSU after serving as Chancellor of Vanderbilt University for seven years. He had previously been to OSU at Chancellor from 1990-97. Prior to his tenure at Vanderbilt, he was president of Brown University (1998-2000) and also had a five-year stint at the University of Colorado (1985-90). He also was president at West Virginia University from 1981-85.

Among his array of credits include service under Chief Justice David T. Lewis of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals before being named a judicial fellow and staff assistant to the U.S. Supreme Court. While there, he worked for Chief Justice Warren Burger on administrative and legal problems of the Court and federal judiciary. After returning to his home state of Utah, Dr. Gee was a professor at Brigham Young University. In 1979, he was named dean of the West Virginia University Law School and was appointed to the presidency at WVU in 1981.

He has continued his academic career, co-authoring nine books, papers, and articles on law and education along the way.

Gee summed up his speech by telling the graduating class, “Stand for something, even if you stand alone. Remember to call home, play nice. In the real world, you cannot vote people off the island. Do what you love; say thank you. Maintain for the rest of your life as much passion for learning as you have at this moment. And, most important, do not be frightened. You have the tools, the talents and the tenacity to tackle life and succeed while making a difference.

As a salute to the mascot of the host institution, he then finished with three words, “Go Red Wolves.” 



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