Dr. Donald R. Eastman, III, President of Eckerd College
Men and women of Eckerd College, the end is near.
At the Ceremony of Lights, on August 8, 2008, I handed you who were freshmen Eckerd College medallions commemorating the beginning of your college careers, and today we handed you your diplomas to end it. The first was a gift; the second was earned.
Last night we sang at Baccalaureate the same inspiring words from Harry Emerson Fosdick's enduring hymn that we have sung at the Ceremony of Lights each year: Grant us wisdom; grant us courage - for the facing of the hour; for the facing of the hour.
Residential and PEL graduates, fellow students who have arrived at this glorious day by so many various paths, we hope that your years at Eckerd College have prepared you for a life of ceaseless change, generous service, and moral courage - "for the facing of the hour."
We will know by your work if we have succeeded.
As you march off today to lives of imagination, service, and discovery, remember all those who have helped you get to this great day: your parents, spouses, lovers and loved ones, mentors and teachers, all your family of Eckerd faculty and staff and fellow students.
Remember also those who go with you now only in spirit.
Of course, in the end, what you will most remember of your experiences of Eckerd College will be the community you were part of, the very special community of learning, exploration, discussion, service, debate, good times and bad, happy days and sad, full of deep and lasting friendships with extraordinary teachers and ardent learners. Looking back, you may someday say in W. B. Yeats' words,
"Think where man's glory most begins and ends/And say [your] glory was I had such friends."
You are, as Dylan Thomas should have said, the boys and girls of summer, and 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.
After the recessional, we invite everyone to please join us on the field in celebration of our graduates.
Our revels are now ended. Would all please rise, and the bearer of the mace will do his duty.