Dr. Donald R. Eastman, III
Welcome, Eckerd College students, parents, families, friends, Members of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees, faculty and staff:
Welcome to this 43rd Commencement ceremony at Eckerd College.
This ceremony is called a “commencement” because it celebrates what is to begin here, not what will end here.
This ceremony not only honors each graduating senior, but the Class of 2006 at Eckerd College, a community of extraordinary men and women. It honors what they have accomplished, and what they will accomplish in the years ahead.
I want to thank the Board of Trustees for all they have done to build this outstanding college in the liberal arts tradition and for their unstinting, unswerving support. Will the trustees who have joined us today please stand and be recognized?
I also want to express my gratitude to other distinguished members of the platform party for their participation in today's ceremony. Thank you to our Commencement speaker and honorary degree recipient: Dr. Karen Brown Dunlap; and our other distinguished honorary degree recipient, Dr. Marion White; Bishop Taylor; Chairman Collier; my colleagues: Dean of Faculty Lloyd Chapin, Dean of Special Programs Jim Deegan, Dean of Students Jim Annarelli and our Chaplain & Director of Campus Ministries, Mona Bagasao.
Now, let me ask the distinguished and dedicated men and women of the Eckerd College faculty, who are the embodiment of Eckerd College - to stand as we thank you for the work that makes this day possible: Thank you.
Nor would this day be possible without the support, emotional and spiritual and financial, of the families of those who graduate today - mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, husbands and wives and children: Please stand so we may recognize and applaud your love and support: Thank you.
And let me also recognize someone many of you have gotten to know, often in the company of the two small black dogs she walks on campus, my wife and principal advisor: Christine Eastman. She extends to each and every one of you today, her congratulations and best wishes.
Eckerd College Class of 2006: I salute you for your perseverance and your promise.
Your college career included the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001 - a day that changed American life forever; you have classmates and friends and faculty members who consequently serve the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the globe: You survived two active hurricane seasons - ones that broke more records than we would like to remember.
You will soon begin careers in an ever-changing world - a world in desperate need of your talent and knowledge and energy. You leave here today to make the world a better place. You are going to conduct research from Tampa to Costa Rica to Antarctica; going to work on environmental challenges; going to law school and medical school and theology school; you will become engineers, teachers, technicians, oceanographers, counselors, artists and scientists, attending superb graduate schools all over the United States in dozens of disciplines. At the end of this ceremony, you will march off to show the world that Eckerd College changes lives, and Eckerd College graduates change the world: Please stand so we can recognize both your achievement and your promise: Thank you.
It has been a great year at Eckerd College, full of learning planned and unplanned, and this graduating class of 2006 is an extraordinary group of men and women eager to make the world a better place for all of humankind.
We have had our tragic moments: I will probably never see a girl in a cheerleading costume again without thinking about the beautiful and much beloved Laura Gorman.
But I will also not think about Midtown without thinking about the great work there by Hartley Gillespie; or of Harry Truman without thinking of Sarah Sieloff; or read the Eckerd Review without thinking of Arthur Taylor and his magnificent poem to his father, the Bishop; or think of lacrosse at Eckerd without remembering the great club team of 2006 - which finished 3 rd in the country; or hear of Fulbrights without remembering Laura Yeager; or think of the Eckerd College Emergency Medical Services Corps. without remembering Matt D'Antonio and Leland Widger; or think of a fair minimum wage without remembering Matt Flege and Craig Altemose. So much of my perception of the world is now infused with the heart, the soul, the idealism and the wonderful wackiness of Eckerd students, and so much of that is due to the Class of 2006.
You are, as Dylan Thomas should have said, the boys and girls of summer, and the autumn beckons. Therefore I say hail and farewell, the old Roman salute, to you now. Hail to all the imagination and heart you bring to create the future; farewell to your life here as students who have felt, I hope, not only well tutored, but well loved.
We will miss you.