Ladies and gentlemen, members of the class of 2000, we continue today an ancient tradition of assembling in formal convocation to recognize those who have reached significant milestones on the road to knowledge and accomplishment.
And so we are gathered for this commencement together with graduates in the arenas of education, nursing, and community service and technology.
With no small measure of effort and self-discipline, each of you has learned to apply critical thinking and to use new information and technologies.
Along the way, you also have discovered that learning is a continuous and exciting process.
And little did you know that you were going to get yet one additional University of Akron lesson - this time from your president.
The truth is that you have just begun to learn, and what I want you to understand is that your education and your continued learning is what allows all of us to work together toward building a better society.
Continuous learning -- the creation of new knowledge -- is what allows us to build a better future with a common vision for the common good.
History has taught us that to improve our lot as a society, we must make use of our collective wisdom, and that we must make use of our accumulated and emerging knowledge - rather than to rely on mere opinions or on the pretense of authority.
And throughout the world, wherever democratic ideals are practiced and where free markets operate, the process by which we apply that collective wisdom is one of empowerment.
Indeed, the very essence of participatory democracies - or, indeed, of any organizational or corporate effort -- relies on our ability to use the combined knowledge of our citizens.
It is a process that I have called shared leadership, and I want to tell you that this is increasingly the process that fuels the creative progress of our society.
I suggest to you that, as a society, there is one indisputable lesson we must remember:
And that is, that in creating a government, we make a covenant with ourselves, wherein we promise to create a better future for ourselves and for our children by investing in those things that advance the common good.
In short, government is an exercise in shared leadership.
Over time, we have come to agree as a society that those things that add value for the common good are three in number, namely investments in education, research, and infrastructure.
Here at The University of Akron, we are putting Shared Leadership into practice, and I want to tell you about it.
Shared leadership is:
Shared leadership is:
Shared leadership is:
That is shared leadership, and next, I want to tell you about the value of this process in the larger context of society.
Because in today's knowledge-based economy, higher education is the infrastructure that allows us to build a better future.
Higher education is that internal system that, like the tiny pieces of a fine watch, is the basis for what makes our society tick.
Higher education gives individuals the basis for generating the ideas and technologies that enable both personal and economic progress.
Higher education creates knowledgeable individuals who can apply their analytical and problem-solving skills to shape our industries and our society.
Not so long ago, it was acceptable to suggest that our sons and daughters would not need a college education.
After all, factory jobs were plentiful, and the company that employed you could well be the one that allowed your children and grandchildren to earn their living.
But no more! Looking back, the whole idea not only seems old-fashioned, it is patently naive.
Today, jobs are evolving ever faster and the job that you have today may not exist tomorrow.
Traditional jobs and industries are being drawn competitively to emerging economies, and the most successful countries are those with an educated workforce - and often times their levels of educational achievement surpass those right here in America.
So what does shared leadership have to do with jobs?
Here at home, if we are not learning and adapting, if we are not creating an increasingly educated workforce, then we are simply falling behind.
The lesson that we must actively remember is this: It is our collective responsibility, through shared leadership, to advance the common good, by enhancing our knowledge and our learning as a total society.
Your educational experience at The University of Akron is part of that collective investment in shared leadership.
As you now open doors of opportunity and create your own experiences, you become part of that progressive and collective advancement of our great country.
Treasure it, nurture it, and continue to learn.
Our collective future depends on it!
On behalf of the Trustees, the faculty, the staff and administration, your fellow students, and The University of Akron family everywhere - I salute you, the Spring 2000 graduates, together with your family and friends who have helped make your success possible.
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.
Dr. Proenza offers graduates in the College of Health Professions a more expansive view of the effects of their work with patients and clients
Employers seek three specific qualities in graduates, and a common element to all is simplicity.
Dr. Proenza reviews the recent history of the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, its current status and position for future growth.
Graduates are urged to "lean into the winds of changes and turbulence" in a commencement address on the nature of risk, emotional resiliency and "antifragility."
Dr. Proenza offers graduates lighthearted advice that compares healthy reading habits to a healthy diet.
Dr. Proenza explains to graduates that you will best compete and thrive in this knowledge-based economy if you utilize the arts and sciences to tap into every asset of your brain.
In his 13th State of the University Address, Dr. Luis M. Proenza reviewed the accomplishments of the past academic year and decade, and discussed the challenges and opportunities inherent in the disruptive changes occurring in higher education today.
Dr. Proenza encourages graduates to use this milestone event in their lives to examine their life goals and purpose.