Celebration of Academia
Prof. Alfred Bushway
2011 Distinguished Maine Professor
Greetings from the Academy. Forty three years ago I was in your chair, on sunny Alumni Field, waiting, as you are, with great anticipation to receive my handshake and a few memorable words of wisdom from an assortment of wise and eminent scholars.
In 1968, long before many of you were born, technology was in its infancy. My class began college with the trusty slide rule and graduated with hand held calculators. Your class surfs the Internet, networks in real time with ipads and iphones and relies on texting and tweeting as the first line of communication. You know much has changed, yet much remains the same.
Just as with my class and all the classes that have graduated before you, you are beginning careers in medicine, the arts, science and engineering, and business. To become leaders in your communities, your state and your country, you must recognize that your education is a tool to be used to improve your life and the lives of those around you, and to make a difference in our world. Let me frame this with a quote from an initiation ceremony for the honor society Alpha Lambda Delta:
Your education is the means by which you learn to recognize the wonders of science, to appreciate the beauty of great literature and art, to use well our own language, to learn the lessons of past history, to speak and read the languages of other peoples, to study the social and political forces of our world, and to discuss the thought and the philosophy of other ages.
Have confidence that your training has prepared you to address the relevant and emergent issues of our day.
You have the tools. And those generations who came before you and those who follow will look to you as tomorrow’s educators, artists, nurses, social workers and leaders of industry to impact our world in significant and positive ways. Use what you have learned here to think creatively while facing the challenges of a modern world.
Seek the balance between facilitating economic development and protecting the environment, work to address energy independence, to find funding for the arts, strive to ensure quality, affordable health care is available around the world, work to alleviate poverty. And be mindful of education reform for you will see that it is your experience here at UMaine that has equipped you to accept these responsibilities and ensures that you will be instrumental in transforming your community.
Remember the mentors you had along the way. What unique characteristics made them special? They paid it forward through their relationship with you.
Now is the time to return the favor. The satisfaction you will feel when you see the positive impact you have will far surpass the investment of your time and effort.
Although you now have many of the tools needed to make a difference, remember that learning is a lifelong endeavor. Recognize and embrace each and every learning opportunity and know that even a professor approaching retirement can learn something from you. Consider this recent message I received from one of my former students:
Remember, growing older is mandatory, growing up is optional. We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.
Congratulations graduates – may you all find a future full of joy and personal fulfillment.