(May 21, 2010) – “Don’t rush. There is plenty of time for your careers to unfold,” New York Federal Reserve President and New College alum William Dudley told the graduating class of 2010 this evening as New College of Florida celebrated its 44th Annual Commencement on the great lawn of College Hall. “The most important thing is that if you like what you are doing, you almost certainly will be successful at it.”
Dudley, a member of the New College class of 1974, was the keynote speaker at tonight’s ceremony, which drew more than 1,500 parents, alums and friends of the College to the bay front where a spectacular sunset and roars of applause welcomed 153 members of this year’s graduating class. True to a tradition that dates back to the College’s earliest years, this year’s graduates skipped caps and gowns and instead donned a variety of colorful costumes and outfits to mark the occasion.
Drawing upon his expertise as one of the nation’s leading experts on economic and monetary issues, Dudley told graduates that while the economy is improving they still are likely to face challenges in the post-graduation job market. Still, he urged them to be optimistic and to remain confident in their abilities.
“Go into the job market with enthusiasm and don’t be daunted by the inevitable rejections. That’s part of the process of getting started,” he told them. “Don’t feel in a rush to figure out all the details of your career. If you are true to yourself, continue to build your human capital and don’t forget everything that they have taught you here, I know that you will meet with every success.”
Preceding Dudley on the podium was New College President Mike Michalson, who expressed both appreciation and sympathy for the families of graduates who have endured what is being called the Great Recession.
“I am keenly aware that the college careers of your sons and daughters have coincided with what have likely been the roughest financial challenges many of you will face in your entire lives,” Michalson told the crowd. “Affording a college education is hard enough without having to cope with a lost job, an unanticipated career change, or a precipitous decline in your personal income. I cannot imagine the cumulative amount of worry lying behind all of your family stories taken together.
“Let me take this opportunity to state emphatically to all you parents that the happy occasion drawing us together this evening clearly demonstrates that your worries and sacrifices have all been worth it. In this light and at this moment, I want to acknowledge and honor your perseverance and to thank you for your confidence in New College.”
Despite the serious tone, both Michalson and Dudley managed to interject some humor into the occasion as well. For his part, Dudley reflected upon a harsh evaluation he received from a fellow student for a literature paper he wrote as an undergraduate, while Michalson reminded graduates not to take all of the hyperbole handed out during commencement too seriously.
“Graduates: on a more upbeat note, this is my opportunity to offer up platitudes of numbing banality with the hope that you will confuse them for wisdom. After all, one great feature of commencement ceremonies is that you can stand in front of a large audience and say things like: ‘You have your whole future ahead of you,’ and then watch people nod solemnly, as though they’ve just been given the inner secret of life.”
Still, he concluded, “Platitudes attain their status by virtue of being true. So when we talk about how your liberal arts education has indeed prepared you for your future in a complex world, we’re not simply being platitudinous, it’s true. The global situation just seems to get more complicated and worrisome by the moment, yet in the years ahead, you will discover the value and importance of what we take most seriously here – critical thinking, reasoned argument, creativity, evidence-based judgments, and (not least of all) tolerance for honest disagreements.”
For more on this year’s commencement exercises at New College of Florida, check out the following links:
Click here for a complete list of this year’s graduating class.
Click here to read New College President Mike Michalson’s remarks to the graduating class.
Click here to read New York Federal Reserve Bank President William C. Dudley’s, ’74, remarks to the graduating class.
Click here to view the video of President Dudley remarks.
Click here to view photos of the graduation ceremony.