Parting words

Excerpts from commencement remarks around the campus

"For the first time in many centuries, power is moving East. China and India each have populations roughly double those of America and Europe combined. In the next two decades, these two countries together will undergo industrialization four times the size of the USA's and at five times the speed. . . . Most of all we should know that in this new world, we must clear a path to partnership, not stand off against each other, competing for power." —Tony Blair, former British prime minister, at Yale College's Class Day


"Always keep in mind that neither you nor art need enemies that have been gratuitously made by arrogance or indifference. First and foremost that includes those among whom you live but who have no more basis for understanding you and what you do and why than the one you provide them." —Robert Storr, Dean, School of Art


"The phrase 'the best of times, the worst of times' is overused, but it is very appropriate for the times you are now entering as graduates. It's the worst of times because the climate and other environmental threats you will be facing are unprecedented. But it's also the best of times because the level of environmental concern and awareness here and abroad is reaching new highs; the prospects for environmental politics are getting brighter and brighter; and the greening of business is broader and deeper than ever." —Gus Speth ’64, ’69LLB, Dean, School of Forestry & Environmental Studies


"You enter today as students, but you will leave as doctors. You will leave today as future interns with patients' lives in your hands. You will leave today as a critical component of this country's healthcare workforce. . . . People have many needs, but eventually all realize that their most important possession is their health and you will be respected and cherished for preserving this." —Robert Alpern, Dean, School of Medicine


"Creativity involves, even demands, risk. Most of you have walked from the dew line of society's manicured lawn into a forest where you forged a path.  Whether going for the high note or standing in front of a class for the first time, one is aware of both exuberance and vulnerability." —Robert Blocker, Dean, School of Music


"The Epistle [to the Hebrews] also conjures up the image of a pacesetter, that Galilean prophet and sage, elusive but provocative, who stands at the heart of our traditions. . . . My prayer is that you find the strength, the imagination, the perseverance, in short, the heart, to run the race that God sets before you -- a race to preach good news, to bring healing and comfort to the afflicted, and, on occasion, to afflict the comfortable, a race to make new discoveries, to create beauty, and to serve in creative ways." —Harold Attridge, Dean, Divinity School


"You are graduating in a moment where you will be challenged almost immediately, whether it's in financial services, the environment, the nonprofit sector, the changing and sometimes hostile geopolitical climate, the regulatory environments of new markets, shortages of food and fuel. The list goes on. But, as I said, the timing could not be better, because I submit to you that adversity creates tremendous opportunity for those who are willing to address it head-on, with creativity and discipline, with compassion and skill, with personal commitment and professional dedication." —Joel Podolny, Dean, School of Management


"All lawyers want to tell their clients yes. What is harder is to tell your client no. We have all learned about two groups of justice department lawyers, both of whom included Yale Law School graduates. One group was asked to approve an illegal program, at the hospital bed of an ailing attorney general.  Their answer, and the attorney general's, was simply 'No.' Another group of justice department lawyers was asked to write a legal opinion authorizing American officials to torture detainees. Their job was to say no. It is illegal and it is wrong. Instead, they answered, 'Here's how.' That was the wrong answer." —Harold Hongju Koh, Dean, Law School


"Like it or not, and I think you like it, as a group you are counter-cultural: you stand for liveness and argument; you have worked as adults to recapture the imaginative freedom you had as children; you are trained in unmeasurable and ambiguous workings of the human mind and heart; you are devoted to real human expression in front of a live audience, in a time when the world is seeing more mediation of human experience than ever before; and above all, in this conservatory, you have embraced a commitment to process that will serve you wherever you go and whatever you do in life." —James Bundy ’95MFA, Dean, School of Drama


"Who we are as nurses began within us, but what we become in nursing began here amongst our peers, our professors, and most importantly, our patients. If we could capture the faces of those people -- the ones you will never forget, the ones who took you on that privileged journey with them. If you could recall the challenges they faced within the context of their care then I would think this is what their photograph would say to us: Better health care for all people. As the Yale School of Nursing motto, it could not speak more profoundly to the hopes and challenges we face within health care." —Sylvia Parker ’08MSN, student speaker, School of Nursing


"I suggest you keep in mind the motto of [former architecture chair] George Howe, who did so much for our school over 50 years ago, setting us on the path of excellence we are still following. Howe's motto was this: non illigitamus carborundum est—which translates pretty much as 'don't let the bastards wear you down.'" —Robert A. M. Stern ’65MArch, Dean, School of Architecture

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