David Angel, President, Clark University

Commencement Speech

David Angel


I would like to ask all of the members of the Clark University Board of Trustees to stand and be recognized. Thank you for joining us, thank you for your stewardship and your support of this great University.

Distinguished guests, trustees, graduates, families, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. I think that about covers it.

I am pleased to welcome all of you to our 2014 commencement ceremonies. Most especially, welcome to our graduates. This is a wonderful moment of celebration for everyone here today, but above all, for you. Through your talent, hard work, accomplishment and determination, you have earned this day of recognition. This is your day! So, sit back, take a deep breath, look around at your friends and family, and enjoy every minute of this very special commencement day.

I have had the honor and privilege of getting to know many of you during your time at Clark. From Academic Spree Day to Spree Day…yeah…I really do remember JELL-O wrestling at Spree Day…to Fall Fest, the graduate student conference, Just Do it Day, Mock Trial and Model UN, from the Michelson Theater to the basketball court, from the classroom to the laboratory. You have worked to advance your education and define your path at Clark and in the world. You have done this with passion, a commitment to excellence, and a caring spirit that makes us all proud.

Your years at Clark are full of special memories, many of them are very personal, but also campus experiences we have shared together. What will you remember? Perhaps you will recall attending inaugural poet Richard Blanco's standing-room-only talk on MLK Day, or the Clark Musical Theatre performance this spring of "Legally Blonde." Our Clark Bars, pizza in the café, early morning crew practice on Lake Quinsigamond? Or maybe it's that late night conversation shared with your roommates, or that time a faculty member pushed you once—pushed you twice—to succeed in a lab or on a research paper. Treasure all of these moments that you and we have shared together.

Our memories of the Class of 2014 are also shaped by events in our community and in our world over these years we have spent together: the passage of Affordable Care, the tragic loss of members of our own community, news that ice caps are melting at an unstoppable rate in Antarctica, the loss of life in Syria. A Clark education has always been profoundly in the world and we hope this education has prepared you now to make a difference in the communities of which you will be a part, whether here in Massachusetts or around the world.

We know that the difficult challenges facing our world today require courage, creativity and determination. While some are pessimistic about what lies ahead for our country and our world, those of us who have spent time with you are optimistic about our common future. The difference that you have made on our campus inspires us. We are confident that you, our graduates, will challenge convention and change our world for the better.

As our new graduates move on to the world of work or advanced degrees, I also want to acknowledge and honor all of the professors who have played a large part in their growth. Clark has a world-renowned faculty, and the connections between these faculty and our students are what makes this place sing. I would like to commend especially seven faculty members whose official service to Clark University as teacher-scholars ends this year, although we know they will remain engaged with Clark. We thank Marcia Butzel, Paul Burke, Marvin D'Lugo, Fern Johnson, Ed Ottensmeyer, Gary Overvold, and Bob Ross for their many years of service. Thank you.

I would now like to welcome and introduce our commencement speaker Ronald Shaich, Class of 1976. Ron is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Panera Bread. His career as an entrepreneur in the food industry actually started while he was an undergraduate at Clark, where he created the student-run General Store. Setting out to change the world—our world—by changing the way America eats, he went on to become an accomplished business and civic leader. Most recently, he has spearheaded Panera Cares, which has created nonprofit community cafés that allow people to get a meal at a price they can afford in a dignified dining environment and to raise awareness about food insecurity in our country. Ron exemplifies the mission and the values that are the guide star for our University.

Ron, the 2014 graduates look forward to your remarks.