Return to Program and Remarks
Donald R. Eastman III
September 7, 2005
Hear my words, colleagues, as part welcome, and part prayer.
You all know, as fellow scholars, that convocation - from the Latin con + vocare - is a calling together of the community - in this case, a calling together of the unique academic community of Eckerd College.
Today we especially celebrate two dimensions of this convocation: the re-uniting of our colleagues, our history - brief and vivid as it is - and our values: residential, environmental, global, spiritual and personal. We also celebrate the constant renewal of that community by new students, new faculty and new staff:
Let me ask all of our new freshmen, transfer students, and new faculty and staff who have joined us today to stand and be welcomed to the Eckerd College community.
May the very special energy and vision of Eckerd College inspire and propel all of us to do the good works we are called here to do this year. May we also be inspired and renewed by each other.
Let us take the awful - a word also of Latin lineage and leverage - example of Katrina and New Orleans to remind us of the Renaissance poet's admonition that at our backs we should always hear "time's winged chariot hurrying near." Such a reminder is particularly apt for those who live beside the sea in the proven path of hurricanes. Let us not only prepare for future hurricanes, but be energized by them to remember that life is short, and there is much good work to be done. Apple's Steve Jobs said at the Stanford commencement last June, "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart... Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life."
For you students, this means - among other things - use your time here to wring the most from your classes, your teachers, and your classmates: Now is the time to grapple with the ultimate questions - about justice, goodness, God and man's purpose - as well as about how you might earn your daily bread.
For the rest of us, now is the time to remember and to emulate Goethe's Faustian exhortation:
And mighty forces will come to your aid.
Now is the time for us to reach even higher in our pursuit of personal and professional and institutional ambitions.
I wish for each of you a year of learning and high achievement and of developing wisdom and courage. I wish for us all deliverance from peril on air and land and sea. I am, as always, honored to be in your company.