May 3, 2015
Graduates, Parents, Family Members. . . Faculty, Staff, and Friends of Illinois Wesleyan --
Greetings from the Trustees and Alumni. On their behalf I say -- Congratulations, Welcome and Thank You.
We congratulate each graduate for your individual achievements. We welcome you to the fellowship of Illinois Wesleyan alumni. And we thank you for your contributions to the University community.
To Parents, Family, Friends, Faculty and Staff -- we share your pride in the accomplishments of these young men and women, and we join them in thanking you for all you have done to help them on their way to this important occasion.
As an institution of higher learning we strive to help our students develop the curiosity and intellectual and moral capacity to think deeply about the important things in life and to live in a manner that is consistent with the best values as reflected in our motto -- Scientia et Sapientia -- generally translated as "Knowledge and Wisdom."
Knowledge implies the acquisition of true information and understanding grounded in objective observation and logical reasoning. Wisdom has been defined as the capacity to exercise sound judgment and act rightly in matters of life and conduct, choosing proper means to achieve good ends. This requires personal engagement that goes far beyond the search for objective truth and reaches deeper into the realm of what it means to be part of humanity in all its historical, social, esthetic, moral and spiritual dimensions.
For a concrete example of what this means, I urge you to look to the life and works of Maya Angelou, the remarkable and wise woman and uniquely American voice whose passing we marked in the last year. She said, “There’s a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.”
With her words, both written and spoken, and her actions, on film, on stage and in life, Maya Angelou imparted great wisdom and provided a positive and forceful expression of the best in humanity. She declared that her “mission in life [was] not merely to survive, but to thrive, and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”
And we should note as well that her long adventurous life was characterized by real commitment and courage. As she observed, “Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous or honest.”
Finally, I commend to you Maya Angelou’s thoughts about how one can make a meaningful difference in the world. She said she had “learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” And finally she remarked that “The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
In your time here on campus we trust that you not only developed your intellects but also experienced many positive and memorable feelings and reached out to and were reached by many good hearts. May this continue and may you warmly remember and honor your University and your fellow alumni in the years to come.
We hope that you will always think of us as your family and this campus as your home. Please return often. You will always be welcome here -- and wherever Titans gather.