An open letter to the graduates from President Wright

by James Wright | 6/10/01 5:00am

Congratulations to the Class of 2001.

It is now, at this moment of leave taking, the responsibility of Dartmouth to affirm and publicly announce that you are now an educated person. While we say this, it is also the case that your education will never be complete. Education, at least the liberal arts education that we offer and value, is the work of a lifetime. But we can and do proudly certify that you are now ready for the next phase of your education -- that you are now more prepared than you were four years ago at your matriculation. The degree that you receive today, upon the recommendation of your faculty, attests to our recognition of this fact. Dartmouth can with confidence claim that you are the stronger because of the time you have spent here.

And conversely, we also know that Dartmouth is the stronger because of you, because of the time you have spent here. You have enriched our classrooms, strengthened the work in our laboratories, enlivened our off-campus programs, energized our studios and stages, represented us with dignity and skill in our athletic and other competitions and have stood for our most generous and caring values in your work in the Upper Valley region and around the world. You have done these things while quietly completing a record-number of academic honors projects.

Susan Wright and I have enjoyed coming to know many of you, applauding you in your efforts, meeting with you in small groups and individually, encountering you around the campus and regularly being inspired by and learning much from you.

Your four years at Dartmouth have been years of continuing institutional change and reflection. You came in 1997 -- a year when we celebrated the 25th anniversary of coeducation at Dartmouth. Today, we have reached substantial parity between men and women and we have significantly increased the diversity of the student body. You shared with President Freedman the last of his eleven distinguished years in the Dartmouth presidency. You saw the construction and opening of Moore Hall, Berry Library, McCulloch Hall, Whittemore Hall at the Tuck School, the renovation and expansion of Wilder Hall and the opening of athletic facilities. You welcomed the opening of the Latino/a House and new programs in student life. You initiated new journals including the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science and the Dartmouth Contemporary. You attended the lectures in the Montgomery Endowment Series on the "Power and the Presidency" and the 2000 presidential debates. You participated in important and ongoing discussions relating to academic planning and the Student Life Initiative.

The world beyond this campus now awaits you -- and needs you. Like Dartmouth, it is a rich, diverse, complex place, one filled with opportunities in which you will excel and occasions in which you will be frustrated. In these moments, I hope that you will reflect upon the best that you have learned here. And I hope that you will remember the responsibility that follows the privilege you have had: responsibility for those whom you might encourage and enable, responsibility for those less fortunate, and nothing less than a shared responsibility for the physical environment around you. Reach out and cross lines of difference -- and if you do so you can be assured that you will continue to learn.

Now you join us in the shared responsibility of making certain that future Dartmouth graduates continue to be as ready as you now are to move on to the next phase of your lifetime of education. We look to see you many times in the years ahead, on campus and off campus.