Thousands of men and women were graduated from area colleges and universities in recent weeks. Following are excerpts from 21 commencement addresses delivered to local graduates.
Dr. James R. Schlesinger, President Carter's chief energy adviser, at The University of Virginia:
Your world will be an increasingly challenging one. As a nation, we can all rise to the occasion, or we can fall with possibly disastrous consequences. There will be a continuing requirement for flexibility of thought and for adaptability in action.The world will not conform to your images. Reality is far too complex to be encompassed by ideology.
Steny H. Hoyer, president of the Maryland state senate, at Prince George's Community College:
We have been forced to consider not just the ends for which we reach them; not just the goals but how to get there. We have discovered that in striving for one socially desirable objective, we may be injuring another. In the vernacular of the day, we increasingly talk of trade-offs - trade-offs between economic expansion and environmental enhancement; between essentials and desirables; between individual initiative and collective action.
Marvin Kalb, diplomatic correspondent, CBS News, at the College of Arts and Sciences, American University:
I close with an appeal. That you watch us closely - monitor our progress and our promises - check our integrity, and keep checking it - focus on our warts, and don't be so impressed by our self-proclaimed virtues. Don't be charmed by Jimmy Carter's smile - any more than you should have been repelled by Richard Nixon's five o'clock shadow. Keep your eye on the sparrow's fall. In this age of televised reality, be true to the substance of life, the underlying meaning, rather than be seduced by the imagery, the puffery, the buying and selling of personalities and presidents. We are the wrong generation to hold up as a model. Don't let us let you down.
David L. Bazelon, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit, at Washington College of Law, American University:
The legal system has made a start toward articulating the complaints of children, college students, prison inmates, hospital patients, minorities, women, military personnel, the old and the unwanted. But it is up to the law schools to carry the work forward; those who are regularly neglected must necessarily become the object of special attention by the law in a just society. And that means that a lawyer must be more than a trained technician. If the legal profession is to serve the whole society and not just a privileged part, lawyers must cherish a sharp sense of injustice.
Pearl Bailey, at Georgetown University:
Honey, you think that piece of paper is something. It's not. You've got to go out and find yourself a job. I know. I never had one of these before. I know what I'm going to do with mine - frame it. You've not only learned the books, you've learned about life.
Honorary degrees, Georgetown University:
Pearl Bailey Bellson, singer, actress, author, Doctor of Humane Letters; Rev. Avery Dulles, S.J., Doctor of Humane Letters; Katharine Graham, chairman of the board, Washington Post Company, Doctor of Humane Letters; Osborne B. Hardison Jr., educator and scholar, Doctor of Humane Letters; Robert J. Henle, S.J., professor of justice in American society, McDonnell Chair, St. Louis University, Doctor of Humane Letters; John J. Meng, administrator, scholar, teacher, Doctor of Humane Letters; Eleanor Holmes Norton, commissioner of human rights, New York City, Doctor of Humane Letters; Peter W. Rodino Jr., Democratic member of the House of Representatives from New Jersey and chairman of the House committee on the judiciary, Doctor of Humane Letters.
Honorary Degrees, Georgetown University School of Medicine:
Dr. Francis J. Braceland, editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry; Gilbert Gude, director of the Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress; and Julius A. Rippel, president of the Fannie E. Rippel Foundation.
Jaroslav Pelikan, Sterling professor of history and religious studies at Yale University, at The Catholic University of America:
The education representated by the diplomas you are receiving . . . has dealt with many aspects of reality that are not reducible to rational principles, and it would have been a caricature, even of the scholastic method, if your teachers had attempted to ground each of their disciplines in such a prior principles and had then proceeded to construct a science deductively. It would be no less a travesty, however, if they had not given you, by precept and example, a method of dealing rationally even with the nonrational . . . dimensions of those aspects of reality. Education is, then, the vindication of rationality even and especially in fields in which rationality is not enough.
Honorary Degrees, Catholic University:
Daniel J. Boorstin, Librarian of Congress, Doctors of Laws; Brother H. Gabriel Connon, F.S.C., Doctor of Laws; Jaroslav Pelikan, Doctor of Human Letters; Catherine Filene Shouse, founder of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performancing Arts, Doctor of Humane Letters; Otis M. Smith, vice president of General Motors Corp. and alumnus of Catholic University, Doctor of Laws; Bishop Brian Davis Usanga, of Nigeria, Doctor of Laws.
Mary C. Lawton, assistant attorney general of the United States, at Marymound College of Virginia:
. . . We live in an age of specialization and intensity that tends to distort our perspective and disturb our serenity. In the 1970s women, perhaps more than men, are affected by this intensity. The pressure for career success and professional recognition drives women to strive for technical job preparation and to prove their worth by outstanding performance. Neither goal is especially wrong but a great deal can be lost in pursuing either too single-mindedly.
Robert C. Byrd, U.S. senator, at Southeastern University:
In an era that is sometimes too willing to praise mediocrity, there is a need for men and women who are willing to give their best efforts in their professions and their work. This is especially true in the business world. Commercial ties connect the vast majority of the approximately 4 billion people on the earth in some way. As a part of the business sector of society, a significant share of the well-being of mankind will be entrusted to your keeping.
Honorary Degrees, Southeastern University:
Clarence M. Kelley, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Doctor of Laws; Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, president of Grambling State University, Doctor of Humane Letters.
Earl G. Graves, publisher and editor of Black Enterprise Magazine, at The University of the District of Columbia:
As graduates of this college and as black Americans, you have a special gift that you can't afford not to use. Whether you studied physics or English or history or social sciences . . . whether you want to be a lawyer, minister, teacher, engineer, businessman, writer or doctor . . . each of you has the spirit of excellence. Not one of us will ever be perfect but we achieve excellence in striving for perfection. That is our heritage, our history - the greatest gift we received from our parents and the greatest gift we can give those who will survive us.
Wade H. McCree Jr., solicitor general of the United States, at Howard University:
We fortunate few who have been chosen from the many to receive an education that has permitted us to see what the dehumanizing experience of slavery and peonage forced upon our forefathers has done to us and to our country have an obligation to complete the process of emancipation. America needs the full participation of all her citizens, black and white, if she is to slove the great national problems that afflict us all . . . This is the charge I leave with you. Cleanse yourself of any lingering doubts of your own capacity to achieve whatever anyone else can, and then teach the rest of us to become as you will be, truly free men and women.
Honorary Degrees, Howard University.
Dr. Mary F. Berry, assistant secretary for education, Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Doctore of Laws; Dr. Stephen J. Wright, educator, Doctore of Humane Letters; Dr. M. Wharton Young, professor, research scholar and active alumnusof Howard College of Medicine, Doctor of Science; Reginald H. Jones, chairman of the board and board and chief executive office General Electric Co., Doctor of Humane Letters; Ardeshir Zahedi, Iran's ambasador to the United States, Doctor of Humanities.
Herbert L. Block, political cartoonist for The Washington Post, at The University of Maryland.
There's nothing new about the United States mentioning human rights. Americans once put out a widely read declaration about certain inalienable rights . . . among them, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.I'm glad they included that last part - and not just because pursuing happiness beats pursuing dissidents and minorities. Life, the poet tells us, is real; life is earnest . . .But the pursuit of happiness - that goes beyond grim survival or watchfulness. If suggests some fun along the way. As a basic right, it sounds like "Enjoy - you're entitled."
Honorary Degrees, The University of Maryland:
Herbert L. Block, Doctor of HUmane Letters; Dr. John A. Wheeler, physics professor and senior theorist, University of Texas, Doctor of Science.
E. Patricia Herron, judge of the Superior Court of California, at Trinity College:
. . . I feel that you are coming out into a world, and into a period in our history when we are increasingly affirming the individual - his or her capacity - as a single, individual or as a member of a group - to exercise selfdetermination . . .I truly believe that each of you can have power or control, as individuals or as part of a group, over organizations, entities, governments - forces that for years we thought were immovable.
Honorary Degree, Trinity College:
Doctor of Science to Dr. Maria O'Connor Hornung, Trinity alumnus and retired professor of Tulane University Medical Center.
Donald Maddox, member of the graduating class, at George Mason University:
My contention is a simple one; that our body politic has detached itself from the people . . . and, further, that the problem is remediable. It will not be necessary to sack and burn the District of Columbia . . . We have seen the result of giving over completely the reins of power to those whose trustworthiness we could only guess and finally, some innovative, plausible solutions are evolving in various parts of the country, men means of giving the power back to the people.
Virginia McGavin, member of the graduating class, at George Mason University:
I feel it is important for us to realize now that we are graduating, we don't have to cling to the status quo.Some people think the purpose of life is to deal with certainty, to always know where they are headed. Perhaps you are getting tired of certainty in your life . . . I'm sure we all realize the going may get rough but . . . I urge you to remember, if you believe in yourself fully, no activity is beyond your potential. Please hesitate in reaching for the stars.
Hedrick Smith, Washington bureau chief of The New York Times an Pulitzer Prize winning author, at Mount Vernon College:
There is ample challenge before you. But that does not mean the future will be easy, especially with unemployment running high among young people. And though much progress has been made in improving the status and opportunities for women, you are still at an unfair disadvantage too much of the time. You will have to use your ingenuity to push and challenge us men.
Honorary Degree, Mount Vernon College:
Dr. Peter D. Pelham, leaving after 15 years as president of the college, Doctore of Humane Letters.
Dwight David Darland, associate diector, instruction and professional development, National Education Association, at the School of Education, The George Washington University:
. . . we have a leadership crisis in education. It is worldwide. Few, if any efforts, are being made to study American education in the context of our new reality. This will require a revival of courage. But courage requires a climate and we don't seem to have quite the climate established even for identifying the tough problems - and admitting them - for creating a more desirable future.
Honorary Degrees, George Washington University:
Dr. Warren G. Bennis, president of the University of Cincinnati, Doctor of Laws; Dr. James Arthur Robinson, president of the University of West Florida, Doctor of Public Service; Judge Sarah Tilghman Hughes, U.S. District Court Judge, Northern District of Texas, Doctor of Laws.
J.A. Robinson, president and professor of political science, The University of West. Florida, at the School of Public and International Affairs, The George Washington University:
A hundred years ago, leaders of public affairs in this country regarded education as a resource for the development of other values, not only for the further development of education itself. "Knowledge for its own sake" was only one of the justicications for public and private colleges and universities. In the developing countries of the world now, education - and increasingly the American model of education, rather than the European models - is held as important to national development as it was in America in the days of Senator Morrill of Vermont and Professor Wilson of Princeton (Woodrow Wilson, who became president of Princeton in 1902).
Dean Calvin D. Linton, charge for graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, The George Washington University:
It has become traditional over the past half century or so . . . to say that one of the chief benefits of going to college is that students are led to question everything - all their presumptions, all their beliefs, and all of their values . . . A concomitant cliche is the assertion that college is the place to multiply questions, not find answers . . . Now, I am not denying a certain degree of validity in both these "sleeping dogmas," but they are dogmas, and I urge you to subject them to the same skeptical scrutiny which you are urged to apply to those of your parents, grandparents and ancestors back through the ages.Everyone needs what Joseph Conrad calls "a few simple beliefs."
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, at The Washington Technical Institute:
There are fallen standards everywhere, waiting for young persons like yourselves to pick them up, to hold them high, to move them forward once again. For you and thousands like you around the country graduating this year, perhaps the greatest challenge is to avoid apathy and complacency.Often all it takes to turn the tide is one individual, acting alone and against the odds. A single voice of courage and understanding can change the flow of events and improve the community in which we live. Sometimes, it can alter the course of history.
Renata D'Antonio, member of the graduating class, at Montgomery College:
An ultimate goal of education is a mutual respect for one another. Unfortunately in our communities today, we need a greater respect for each other. As members of a democratic society each of us, in our freedom and equality, cannot turn aside from this obligation to community and to ourselves.
Dr. Samuel L. Myers, retiring president of Bowie State College, at Bowie State College:
White students tell me that the fact that they attended Bowie increase their employability in a society which is increasingly looking for people who can cope with and help resolve the dilemma of race which threatens our position of leadership in the world. But most important, I am told, that though there is an initial culture shock, both blacks and whites who emerge from an environment such as this have an extension of their own sensitivities in understanding and indeed an empathy for that which is different. Dr. Richard McKinney, a perceptive philospher . . . emphasized the importance of this outcome alone. He reminded us that "that which we find strange we fear; what we fear we hate; what we hate we seek to destroy."