• Dare to be Great!

    Presiding over the largest undergraduate commencement ceremony in University of Dayton history, President Eric Spina urged graduates to “dare to be great,” to be a “light in the world.”

    Dare to be Great

    By Eric F. Spina

    Presiding over the largest undergraduate commencement ceremony in University of Dayton history, President Eric Spina urged graduates to “dare to be great,” to be a “light in the world.”

    Good morning!

    Congratulations to the Class of 2017!  You did it!

    Let this moment wash over you. This is a day you’ll always remember and cherish.

    I especially welcome all of our families on this joyous day. I can feel your happiness, your pride, and yes, even a little bit of relief. Savor this beautiful moment. And please, graduates, rise, face your family members and give them a rousing round of applause for their support and love that made this day possible!

    Some of you are first-generation college graduates. You personify the American dream, and you will continue to open doors of opportunity — not just for yourselves, but for future generations of your family. We’re so proud of you AND so proud of the family members who made your dream — and theirs — come true.  Let’s have a special round of applause for these first-generation college graduates and their families!

    Members of the faculty and staff: Thank *you* for creating an environment that has allowed these students to stretch themselves academically, to see the world as their classroom, to learn what it means to be a servant-leader in the Marianist tradition. You have encouraged these graduates to dare to be great. You have prepared them to use their education and faith to serve others. Graduates, please rise and express your gratitude to your faculty and staff with a hearty round of applause!

    Graduates, today marks the end of one grand journey and the beginning of a new one — one that’s filled with endless possibilities if you continue to face each day with faith and courage, an open mind and an open heart. My 10 months on campus engaging with you in class and at events, where you live and where you work, has convinced me that you are the future, the future is NOW and the future is indeed VERY BRIGHT as a result!

    I’d like to offer just a few short remarks about how your University of Dayton education has prepared you to travel from this place formerly known as Dewberry Farm and then as Nazareth to the world, where you will make a difference. Indeed, I believe you can change the world.

    Over the course of the past year, more than 3,000 people weighed in on the University of Dayton’s emerging strategic vision. In describing the characteristics of our graduates of the future, one working group wrote, “UD graduates will be a ‘porch light’ wherever they are.”

    I love that metaphor. It reminds me of the special sense of community on this campus, symbolized by the hundreds of welcoming porches in the student neighborhoods. It also holds deeper meaning at a Catholic, Marianist university, where we are called to use our talents and gifts, in a very visible way, to serve others, particularly those less fortunate than us, those who live on the margins of society.

    As you step into careers, graduate schools, and military or other service, I ask you to be a light in the world, to have the courage to act in the face of injustice, to work always for human dignity and the common good.

    Explore and seek your passion. And don’t be afraid of failure because you can’t stretch outside your comfort zones without taking risks and learning how to rebound from occasionally missing the mark. Your parents may not appreciate this sentiment at this moment, but I urge you to risk failure.  As C.S. Lewis stated, “Failures — even repeated failures — are signposts on the road to achievement. One FAILS TOWARD success.”

    Here’s why I think you will find great success.

    Your University of Dayton education has prepared you to adapt and change in a world that’s rapidly evolving. I urge you to be  “change managers” who can successfully navigate and thrive in the future by collaborating with a diversity of people who imagine and then create solutions together.

    Your education has prepared you to confront the challenges of our times and lead in service to others.

    Your education has prepared you to see God in others, to respect and embrace differences, to reject bigotry.

    Your education has prepared you to be empathetic, humble, tolerant, wise — and boldly imaginative leaders and pragmatic dreamers.

    Finally, your education has prepared you to be builders of community, indeed CHAMPIONS of community. Your collaborative skills, your respect for others and your ability to work across disciplines and in diverse settings are traits that will set you apart in life. You are our porch light in a world that needs unity and hope. Please bring your light to the world.

    The University of Dayton will always be an important part of you, and you will always be part of this special campus community. This will always be your home.

    Members of the class of 2017, congratulations on your accomplishments. Now dare to be great. We expect nothing less of you.