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“We look forward with eager anticipation to what lies next in the journey of your lives.”

President Daniel H. Weiss delivered farewell remarks to the class of 2008 today at the 173rd Commencement.

This is, probably more than you realize at this moment, one of the great milestones in your life, because this is to begin a new chapter, a major chapter – your first chapter – as true, functioning, independent adults. You will have new opportunities of the sorts that have been described to you this afternoon and of the sorts that you’ve been spending years studying. It begins now.

Today, we celebrate those achievements that you’ve had here at Lafayette and we reflect – wistfully, to be sure – on your years here. Earlier this week, I received a letter from a parent whose son is graduating today. He wanted to share with me his reflections on what Lafayette has meant to him and to his son.

He wrote, “In Lafayette, you found a home away from home. Lafayette provided the intimate and structured environment in which you could flourish. Lafayette surrounded you with a healthy, supportive, and striving family. Your professors not only cared about you, they challenged you and helped you to learn how to learn. I was so grateful for their dedication and their caring. They were not just teachers, they were mentors. After four years, I think of Lafayette as a community of bright, dynamic, caring, and unpretentious citizens. In spite of leaving the campus, these relationships will continue for the rest of your life.”

I hope that this parent’s words reflect something of what your experience here has been, because this is the sort of foundation you’ll need as you move forward and chase your dreams. Do exactly what Juan Williams has invited you to do, to pursue what’s in your heart and go after the great big world. So I hope that you have.

It’s also important for us to remember that this is a commencement, and a commencement is a beginning. You are commencing the next chapter in your lives We are here to wish you well, to support you – we’re always going to be here for you.

In closing, I want to use the words of Riley Temple, vice chairman of our Board of Trustees and an alumnus of our College. In giving the invocation yesterday at the trustee meeting in which we decided to grant you your degrees, Riley offered the following blessing:

“On this Commencement weekend, we ask Your special blessings on our graduating seniors. Give them the gift of curiosity that cannot be sated. Make them students for life, such that the joy of learning and wonder will never leave them. Soften their successes with humility and pick them up when they stumble and fall. But mostly may they possess always a sense of duty to, and responsibility for, the circumstances of their fellow human beings. May they undertake to make their homes, their communities, this nation, and the world consistent with Your command to love the world as Your creation and to love one another.”

We are very proud of you. We wish you great success, and we look forward with eager anticipation to what lies next in the journey of your lives. Congratulations.

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