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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
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 degrees
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.”