Commencement 2014: Remarks by President Robinson

President Chase F. Robinson

Commencement Remarks by Chase F. Robinson

President, The Graduate Center
June 3, 2014
Today’s protocol grants me few words, but the last words, and especially because less formal celebrations are now in order, I shall be brief.
Today’s Commencement is the Graduate Center’s 50th Commencement, the 50th birthday, as it were, of an intrepid experiment in public education to the highest degree. On behalf of our students, faculty, and staff, I thank all the party organizers, as I express my deepest respect and admiration for those on the stage whom we honor today—Dr. Oja, Dr. Goodheart, Dr. Vilcek, and Mr.—er . . . make that Dr. Lauder. In allowing us to honor you, you honor that genuinely noble project that is public education—an investment by the public for the public good. Leonard Lauder asked that I make explicit mention of precisely that conviction on his part—and nothing could give me greater pleasure than fulfilling that request.
Of course a commencement is above all else a celebration of graduates, and you—doctoral and master’s recipients alike—are the greatest return on the public’s investment. I state the obvious when I note that a Ph.D. is neither an obvious nor an easy thing to do; but in a world imperiled by inequality of opportunity, environmental risk, and the inconstancy of globalization and technological change, you are our best bet: nowadays everyone has information and opinions, but you possess real disciplined knowledge, along with the expertise necessary to transmit and transmute it. There is no ivory tower to ascend; but there are bridges to be built between research, teaching, and social change, and I urge you to cross them.
Beyond commitment and energy, what that requires most of all is the curiosity that brought you here, to Commencement, on June 3rd, 2014. Many years ago a teacher of mine said that we, as scholars, stand on the shoulders of giants, and that if we’re good scholars, sometimes we have to kick them in the head.
So, kick away! I ask only that you direct your blows for the sake of knowledge and the public good.

Submitted on: JUN 3, 2014

Category: Commencements | President's Office - Archive