At Commencement, the President gets the last word. Six quick thoughts:
1. It’s the Year of the Ox in China, but here at William & Mary, it’s the year of the griffin – half eagle, half lion, glorious green and gold wings, long tawny tail. Since ancient times, griffins have guarded precious treasure. What more seemly mascot for the one and only W&M, alma mater of a nation. We’ve got the griffin!
2. Chase Hathaway, you have taught us what a man with a towel can do! And Scott Foster, you’ve shown us what a man with a mission can accomplish!
3. Tribe Pride, getting our light out from under the bushel -- what a zinger that football trip to Charlottesville was last September, beating Mr. Jefferson’s second university on its home field, amid UVa’s vast new stadium, enormous band, and ACC riches. Thereafter William & Mary football, Tribe football, marched relentlessly through the season coming within a hair of a national championship. Then men’s basketball took up the Tribe’s baton, pulling victory out of the jaws of defeat game after game, ending up in the NIT. And that NIT game against the Tarheels should have been played right here, in this very arena. A great year too for many other Tribe teams, one of the best in our athletic history. All the while our athletes were students, amassing academic honors and graduating on time. William & Mary does intercollegiate athletics the right way. As in so many other respects, there is only one William & Mary.
4. Enormous Tribe Pride always in our extraordinary academic accomplishments – Rhodes and Marshall Scholarships, Goldwaters, Fulbrights, Pickerings, Drapers, Gilmans, Borens, National Science Foundation Fellowships, as well as a disproportionate share of Outstanding Faculty Awards for our professors in competition with faculties across the Commonwealth, awards for research and publications, our list of academic honors is stunning. There is no other public college or university in the country with the caliber of engaged learning, faculty with students, that characterizes William & Mary. Only a tiny handful of richly endowed private schools provide our sort of engaged learning. Great teaching combined with serious research is today’s William & Mary. This is a rare and wonderful combination.
5. Relatively few colleges and universities will thrive amid the enormous competition and change that will confront higher education in this century. One common characteristic of those schools that do thrive is going to be powerful alumni support. Without it, even once great schools will circle the drain. With it, their juggernauts will roll. It’s our job, yours and mine, to ensure that William & Mary’s juggernaut rolls!
6. Class of 2010, you are a vital and cherished part of the College of William & Mary for the rest of your lives, not just during the time you spent on campus, not just today. To be from William & Mary is a badge of great distinction. Wear it with open, robust pride. Tribe Pride will galvanize our juggernaut and get it rolling unstoppably.
Awash in Tribe Pride, let’s have a roaring salute to our royal progenitors, King William and Queen Mary and to our marvelous 2010 graduates.