President Leo M. Lambert
May 19, 2007
Will the Class of 2007 please stand?
On August 23, 2003, at New Student Convocation, we made a date to meet here under these oaks at Commencement. It is good to be here with you.
I have always felt a special bond with this class and your families, because in August 2003 Laurie and I took our first child to college.
Since 1985 or thereabouts our families have led synchronous lives. We experienced the miracle of parenthood together, with the associated feelings of bliss and responsibility, sprinkled with the occasional moments of panic. The last twenty-some years are a blur of bedtime stories, first teeth, first days of school, countless soccer games, homework, music lessons, birthdays, holidays, first dates, the driver’s permit, the first fender bender.
Graduates, in your parents’ lives the activities may have been different, but the experience of the blur is the same.
More recently, we’ve practiced the hard part–letting you go.
Supporting your staying on campus for the summer for classes and research. Taking you to the airport for semester abroad. Affirming your choice to spend your break on a service trip. Watching you discern a plan for your life and make important decisions with independence and assurance.
I trust you have always known how deeply you are loved. Today, I say, on behalf of all those who take pride in having helped to raise and to educate you, how much we also admire the adults you have become.
As your president, it is my duty to charge you as members of the alumni body to carry forth the mission of Elon University into the wider world.
You will be called to stand for liberty of conscience and freedom of thought.
You will be called to think and act as global citizens.
You will be called to serve as informed leaders motivated by concern for the common good.
You will be called to stand for respect for human differences.
You will be called to demonstrate, by your daily living, a passion for a life of learning, personal integrity, and an ethic of work and service.
Elon is not just this physical place. Elon is a part of your mind, a part of your heart, and a part of your spirit, and you will carry Elon with you wherever you go.
I also charge you to serve your alma mater, visit the campus often, and keep the University strong for future generations. This is your responsibility as alumni.
Today we have a graduation gift for you. It is an Elon tradition that each member of the graduating class receives a young oak tree. The oak is a symbol of strength. Plant your young oak tree, and let it serve as a reminder that you have been prepared by your education to be a strong force for good in the world.
Remember too that we are the Phoenix. We believe in the promise of new beginnings. So let us commence, and say together, “Long Live Elon!”