Marywood's 96th Commencement ~ 2014

May 11, 2014

Marywood graduates from the Class of 2014 take a selfie prior to the ceremony.

Marion, thank you for your insightful words; we truly appreciate your service on Marywood’s Board of Trustees for the past six years and are deeply grateful for your strong leadership as our Board Chair for the last three years. Generations of your family have served this region so selflessly and so well, and you certainly continue that enduring tradition of noble service, generous compassion, and the pursuit of justice for those in need. We at Marywood trace our own founding values and principles back through many generations of education and service as well. Thank you, once more, for demonstrating these same core values through your excellent leadership.

Now, I would like to address a few thoughts directly to our graduates. First, I think it is worthy to note that today’s Commencement celebrates a milestone moment in Marywood’s history, as we graduate students from the very first class of the School of Architecture. I want to especially recognize the School’s Founding Dean, Gregory Hunt, who has been the guiding light of this program from the start. It’s always daunting to begin something new, let alone starting the only School of Architecture in this region, but Dean Hunt was, and is, more than up to the challenge. However, we couldn’t have been successful without the students. In the first year, we expected to enroll 20 students—and more than doubled that number by the time we opened our doors in the Fall Semester of 2009.

I stood before that inaugural class of architectural students then, as I stand before all of you now…full of hope, full of encouragement, and optimistic about the future. What I had to say on that opening day still applies—not just for our architecture graduates, but for ALL of our graduates: “Today, you are realizing your dreams. You are beginning a journey that will fill your lives with meaning and purpose…”

Indeed, that meaningful, purpose-filled journey does not end today; in fact, it begins anew. Certainly, our architecture graduates will become builders of our world in ways different from many of other graduates, but all of you—make no mistake—are builders.

You are building a life, equipped with the knowledge you need to succeed in your chosen professions. Your hearts, too, have been readied for this journey, because at Marywood University, we believe in educating the whole person—in spirit, mind, and body. You leave here today, not just with a diploma, but with a true education that will serve you well throughout life. You have learned to think, act, serve, and lead beyond yourself.

Your experiences have been transformed by the knowledge you have pursued and gained; by the people you have met—many of whom, I am certain, are now your lifelong friends; by the goals you have set and achieved; by the encouragement of family, friends, and faculty; and by other life events and decisions that have somehow influenced, inspired, and guided you to this day.

All of these experiences have built your life to this moment in time, and you will continue to construct new ones beyond it. I share with you the insight of the world famous architect, Frank Lloyd Wright, who said, “The space within becomes the reality of the building.”

Dear graduates, at Marywood University, we have endeavored to educate, inspire, and shape that space within you, so that the reality of who you’ve become is built on the three pillars of our motto—Sanctitas, Scientia, Sanitas—Holiness, Knowledge, and Health.

Even in our often chaotic society, you are equipped to build and sustain the life of the world. Sometimes it is difficult to remember that you have within you a wellspring of hope, creativity and promise from which to draw. Today I am reminding you to claim the strength, courage and hope that is within you. Along life’s journey, when you encounter difficulty—and there seems to be a deep, wide valley before you—know that you have what it takes to build a bridge across it.

As you commemorate this important occasion, reflect on those who have supported you, loved you, and generously built you up throughout your years of study. Some of them are here with you. Some of them are only here in spirit. Let us take a moment to give thanks for all the family members, faculty, staff, friends and classmates who have been part of your journey to this significant moment of endings and beginnings.

When you cross this stage today to receive your diplomas, you are also crossing a symbolic threshold into the lives you have built. Step boldly into your future—today is a day of celebration! As you move forward, you are more than graduates; you are global citizens, charged to live responsibly in an interdependent world. Wherever life takes you, know that hope and trust are foundational to living interdependently. You must nourish both qualities, so that the “space within” you becomes your reality—the reality of the lives you are building—and the lives that will inspire and empower others around you.

Congratulations. I will miss you, but you are ready. May God bless all of you abundantly!