The first speech President Mitch Daniels ever delivered to a crowd of young, newly-graduated Boilermakers and their families was not an easy one.
The graduating class of 2013 will face challenges upon entering a still fragile economy and work force. Daniels did not shy away from this reality that many would consider grim; he embraced it and issued it as just another challenge that Purdue grads will conquer with inherent ingenuity.
“Purdue is known for pioneers and adventurers,” Daniels said. “These are men and women whose sense of wonder has expanded the frontiers of new knowledge.”
Daniels likened the pessimists of today’s economic prospects to the “doomsayers” of the past. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was predicted that food shortages would cause hundreds of thousands across the world to starve in the coming decades. This was avoided by human innovation resulting from the work that goes on in institutions like Purdue, and Daniels said Boilermakers can once again overcome world-wide obstacles.
“There’s always doomsayers; just check the list of best-selling books,” Daniels said. “But we have much greater hopes. They have the failure of extrapolation. They ignored human ingenuity.”
This may have been Daniel’s first semester as president, but he was very aware of the contributions Purdue graduates have made to the world economy. He noted that Purdue research has helped make possible two and a half times more wheat production on one-third more farmland than in 1960.
Daniel Berger, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in West Lafayette, gave the crowd some friendly advice: make sure to always give credit to friends, family and faculty who have given their love and support.
“You have earned your degree,” Berger said. “But don’t rest too much, there is still something to learn tomorrow.”
Daniels said he will never forget the class of 2013 as his first commencement ceremony.
“You might not remember these next 15 minutes,” Daniels said, “but I will. I’ll always recall the class of (2013) and I’m sure you’ll provide great reminders for when my memory starts to slip. I know some things on the scoreboard don’t look too good right now, but a new team of Boilermakers is on the floor now. Batters up — actually, Boilers up.”