So, you are now poised to go out there, into the "real world," as they say; you are ready to go forth, to "commence." After all, that is what this ceremony is all about -- marking your passage from here to there.
And, in getting from here to there, you hopefully have learned that perspective is important; that you need to learn to see the forest from the trees; to gain the 40,000-foot view, or better yet, the global view as seen from space.
Indeed, I often use a satellite photo of Ohio taken at night to make a point about the emerging dynamics of our regional economy.
Now you may well ask: "What can be seen when taking a picture of the earth at night?" And that is a good question. But, in effect, what we see is a pattern of light that defines the economic demography of our state. And that is very much a single, regional picture.
Because what we see when we look at this satellite photo is all of Northeast Ohio as one region, broad along the lake and tapering down towards Akron and Canton -- one large dynamic region, indeed the largest economic region in all of Ohio. All of the other areas pale in size by comparison.
What we do not see are the traditional, political boundaries that define a city or a county, or separate Akron from Cleveland, or Summit County from Cuyahoga County or Stark County.
In other words, working toward a better understanding of our region means eliminating artificial boundaries and instead, seeing that we can derive strength and expertise from this regional perspective, as seen so clearly by the unified pattern of light that defines Northeast Ohio in that satellite photo.
Today, we will honor two regional leaders -- two bright points of light from each end of this region -- Richard Pogue from the North Coast and Mary Regula from our southern extension in Canton.
Both have found unique ways to use their talents and energies to contribute to the well-being of The University of Akron specifically, and of Northeast Ohio in general.
In thinking about how best to honor them, and this graduating Class of 2004, I decided that there were no better words than those written by Theodor Geisel, particularly on this the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Most of us know Ted Geisel by his middle name: Seuss...Dr. Seuss.
As a writer and cartoonist, he forged successful careers in literature and filmmaking, from which he received a Pulitzer, two Emmys and three Oscars.
Like our honorees, Geisel appreciated education and fashioned unique and creative ways to stimulate intellectual growth.
When Ted Geisel died in 1991, his last book, Oh, the Places You'll Go, was still on the bestseller lists.
Indeed, it is a timeless classic that will always be as appropriate for a five-year-old as it is for this college graduating class or for the purpose of exemplifying the many accomplishments of our honorees.
So to you, the class of 2004, and to Mary Regula and Dick Pogue, let me offer this tribute in the words of Dr. Seuss, specifically in words taken from that classic of his, "Oh, The Places You'll Go.":
So here it goes, and I quote:
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go.
You'll look up and down streets. Look ‘em over with care.
About some you will say, ‘I don't choose to go there.'
You're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.
Out there things can happen
And frequently do
To people as brainy
And footsy as you.
And when things start to happen,
Don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along
You'll start happening too.
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
Who soar to high heights.
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don't.
Because, sometimes, you won't.
I'm sorry to say so
But, sadly, it's true
Can happen to you.
And the chances are, then
That you'll be in a Slump.
You're not in for much fun.
Is not easily done.
You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
And IF you go in, should you turn left or right. . .
Or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
For a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.
You can get so confused
That you'll start in to race.
Down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace,
And grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
Headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place. . .
. . .for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
Or a bus to come, or a plane to go
Or the mail to come, or the rain to go
Or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
Or waiting around for a Yes or a No
Everyone is just waiting.
That's not for you!
Somehow you'll escape.
You'll find the bright places.
THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!
There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games
to be won.
I'm afraid that some times
You'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
‘cause you'll play against you.
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
You'll be quite a lot.
But on you will go
Though the weather be foul.
On you will go
Though your enemies prowl.
On you will go.
Onward up many
A frightening creek,
On and on you will hike.
And I know you'll hike far
And face up to your problems
Whatever they are.
You'll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step,
Step with care and great tact.
And remember that Life's
A Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)
KID, YOU'LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!
So. . .
You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So. . .get on your way!"
(Geisel, Theodor Seuss, Oh, The Places You'll Go, Random House Trade, January 1990)
At the inaugural event for The University of Akron's "Last Lecture Series," Dr. Proenza discusses the power of beginnings and the illusory nature of endings.
A number of factors can limit or skew an individual's perspective on the world. Dr. Proenza offers examples and advice on how to seek additional perspectives.
While idealism fuels our dreams and ambitions, unrealistic ideals can be counter productive to effective work. Dr. Proenza discusses some of the pitfalls of unrealistic ideals and how to counter them.
Dr. Proenza urges graduates to live their lives with strategic intent and to be guided by their dreams.
Northeast Ohio has improved its talent dividend of citizens who hold college degrees. Dr. Proenza emphasized the importance of an educated populace and discussed methods to further improve the region's results.
In his last State of The University address as president of The University of Akron, Dr. Luis Proenza reviews the progress and returns on investments made over the past 15 years, and outlines necessary steps during this academic year to maintain this momentum .
Drawing upon his own experiences, Dr. Proenza encourages graduates to continue to seek the magic of learning throughout their careers.
Dr. Proenza advises graduates to no longer identify solely with their majors, but to also regard themselves as critical thinkers, communicators and problem solvers. Doing so, he said, will make the job market a more welcoming place.
In a lighthearted nod to J.K. Rowling's novels, Dr. Proenza offers graduates a final lesson of "A Defense Against the Dark Arts of Derision, Disrespect and Insult!"
If inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil is correct in his predictions for the near future, "a lifetime of learning" has new meaning for today's graduates.