Remarks by Chancellor Steve Kang at the UC Merced 2009 Commencement

CHANCELLOR STEVE KANG: First Lady Michelle Obama, Distinguished Guests, Class of 2009, Parents and other family members, Faculty, Staff, Alumni, Students and Guests, it is my honor to welcome you to this year's commencement ceremony.

I want to set aside this special moment to ask the families and support teams of these graduates to please rise. [gesture and pause] We honor the sacrifices you have made to bring these graduates to the finish line. [applause] Now you may be seated.

Today, the nation's eyes are riveted on Merced for this historic Commencement. You, our pioneering students, helped write the first chapter of UC Merced's history by choosing to embark on this new venture. And you are part of history in the making today.

This day brims with the promise of new beginnings. I can think of no better place for the First Lady's first Commencement address than UC Merced, a campus rich with symbols of great beginnings.

We have just completed the Early Childhood Education Center. It is located near the entrance to campus as an expression of the high value we place on preschool, the critical beginning
to a lifetime of learning. We are pleased to announce that today we name the center's garden as "Michelle Obama's Garden for Young Children" in honor of the First Lady's visit.

In the Carol Tomlinson-Keasey Quad [gesture], named after our founding chancellor, is a sculpture entitled "Beginnings" that stands as a metaphor for our growing campus.
Its outstretched arms symbolically reach out to enfold and nurture our students
and embrace the community that welcomed us here.

Class of 2009, your vision, inspiration and perseverance culminate in today's ceremony. We promise to honor your achievements by continuing to build the 21st century's first major research university into an institution that you can proudly claim as your alma mater.
You, in turn, will honor UC Merced by becoming successful alumni.

While it is common to urge graduates to "make us proud," you have already done that.

You made us proud when you formed the student government and the first 100 clubs and chapters of academic societies. You made us proud when you launched The Prodigy newspaper and Bobcat Radio. And you made us proud when you envisioned your class gift,
which will be announced later in this ceremony.

The great Indian nationalist and spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi developed a keen eye for human behavior during his lifetime.

I want to pass on a few words of advice from his writings that I think have particular relevance in the world you're about to enter. In each case, I'm going to add my personal advice on how to respond to the issues Gandhi raised.

Gandhi warned against seeking wealth without work; to which I would add, may work be your way to give back to the world. Gandhi cautioned against pleasure without conscience;
to which I would add, may pleasure spring from being true to your conscience.

Gandhi admonished against science without humanity; to which I would add, may humanity's well-being be the ultimate goal of your scientific discovery. Gandhi disdained politics without principle; to which I would add, may principle be the touchstone of your leadership.

I salute you, Class of 2009. God speed.

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