Interim President Patrick A. McGuire L.H.D. '12
Commencement Valedictory Remarks
May 19, 2019
Good morning graduates and families, honored guests, faculty, staff, friends and neighbors...
During the past year as interim president, I have gotten to know many members of the Classes of 2019. I have seen your impressive scholarship and research, your accomplishments in athletic and academic competitions, your entrepreneurial spirit and devotion to service in the community.
I have gotten to know the student trustees, the leaders of campus clubs and organizations, representatives from student government, and engaged students of character and conscience who make up these graduating Classes. I have seen your passion for learning, and your strength and your conviction in fighting for change where you see injustice — nowhere more so than here on campus.
You have challenged your peers, the faculty and staff, the Trustees and administration, the institution itself. You have challenged Hobart and William Smith to reflect on our historical values and to make necessary strides to more fully realize and implement those values in our contemporary moment.
You have used your voices, and the experiences and ideas from your work these past years, to make the members of this community more aware, more willing to be vocal, more willing to listen.
I thank you.
Here is what you — the Classes of 2019 — have demonstrated... That vigorous debate must be matched by vigorous compassion... And that vigorous compassion must always be accompanied by vigorous action. Because that is how change happens.
Debate. Compassion. Action.
Our Colleges need alumni like you. Your children will need parents like you. And bosses like you. Our nation needs leaders like you.
Leaders who step up to deal with discrimination, who step up to deal with hatred, who step up to deal with apathy.
We need leaders like you to step up, as you have done here on campus, where your diverse voices and experiences have changed the trajectory of the institution for the better.
You have the courage to drive that kind of change, wherever the future challenges take you...
Where there is difference, meet it with curiosity and humility...
Where there is misunderstanding, meet it with truth and clarity...
Where there is indifference, meet it with conviction...
Where there is frustration, meet it with empathy...
Where there is hate, meet it with love...
I have every confidence in your ability to do so. I believe in you. We believe in you.
I would like to end with one of my mother’s favorite Irish blessings... and with a somewhat altered version (sorry Mom...)
May the road rise up to meet you,
May the wind always be at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face and rains fall soft on your fields,
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
And my Changes...
May the road rise up to meet you...
AND YOU REACH OUT AND GRAB THAT ROAD AND TELL THEM YOU ARE COMING.
May the sunlight of change and rains of disappointment not deter you from your life’s goals...Tell them you are coming.
May the sun shine on the darkness that enters your life so that you can see your path...Tell them you are coming.
And if we meet again, may you bring peace and happiness to all you meet...Tell them you are coming.
Never forget where you came from; look back and remember us.
May your God bless you and keep you, and God bless you, your parents, relatives and friends and Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Good-bye and I hope to see you soon again!