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Eckerd College Commencement
Speeches and Remarks

Dr. Donald R. Eastman, III

Dr. Donald R. Eastman, IIIEckerd College students, parents, families, friends, members of the Eckerd College Board of Trustees, faculty and staff: Welcome to the 46th Commencement exercises at Eckerd College.

This ceremony is called a "commencement." We celebrate not only what will end today, but what is to begin today.

At this ceremony we honor not only each graduating senior, but also the Class of 2009 at Eckerd College, a community of extraordinary men and women. We honor what they have accomplished, and what they will accomplish in the years ahead.

This commencement ceremony, like everything else at Eckerd College, is arranged to be one more educational event in your undergraduate experience. Today, the College will again display its values by what it honors and whom it honors.

Today we honor academic achievement, service, fortitude, and leadership. We also will honor, by remembering a pivotal event of the College's history, the civil rights struggle that has been at the core of our nation's story for 150 years. Eckerd College graduates to be, please attend closely to this one last lesson we have for you this morning.

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.

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, Steve Forbes, and honorary degree recipients, J. Thomas West, Howard Eugene Kennedy and Jane Arbuckle Petro; Chairman Collier; and my colleagues, Dean of Faculty Lloyd Chapin, Dean of Special Programs Jim Deegan, Dean of Students Jim Annarelli and our Chaplain & Director of Religious Life, Mona Bagasao.

Let me ask now 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 labor that makes this day possible. Thank you.

It is a privilege for me to serve this faculty; and it is an honor for me to be a colleague to the great staff of Eckerd College, who do their work, every day, with grace and skill, and at a very high standard. Will my colleagues of the Eckerd College staff – groundskeepers, housekeepers, food service staff, student life, finance... all Eckerd College staff – please stand so these students and their family and friends can applaud your service and support of them? Thank you.

This day would not be possible without the support - - emotional, spiritual and financial - - of the families of those who graduate today: grandparents, mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, husbands and wives and children. Please stand so we may recognize and applaud your love and support. Thank you.

Eckerd College Class of 2009: You students who graduate today have been volunteer teachers in schools in St. Petersburg and in Cape Town; climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and the French Alps; carried out service projects in mid-town, in Nicaragua and Burma and dozens of other countries; carried out thousands of rescues at sea through ECSAR, won Fulbright fellowships and Hollings Scholarships – and so much more.

You will soon begin careers in a challenged world, a world in great need of your talent and knowledge and energy.

You are going to conduct research all over the world; address social, political and environmental challenges, attend law school and medical school and theology school; you will become engineers, teachers, technicians, oceanographers, counselors, artists and scientists, attend superb graduate schools all over the United States in dozens of disciplines; and take leadership positions in your jobs and in your communities.

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 your achievement and your promise:

Thank you.

Eckerd College
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