Commencement Remarks Spring 2007
Congratulations, and now officially welcome,
all 363 of you, to the Bellarmine University Alumni Association, which
at this point in the University’s history is not only a national but
an international organization -- composed of over 16,000 Bellarmine men
As you know, Bellarmine has launched a big, bold and
ambitious vision for its improvement and growth over the next 15 years,
Vision 2020 – and the bright, beautiful and powerful Bellarmine
University alumni, now including all of you, as well as Wendell Berry,
Archbishop Kelly and always Billy Bradford – will become a major factor
in turning our vision into our reality.
My two distinguished predecessors, Msgr. Alfred Horrigan
and Dr. Gene Petrik, would very much have liked having as abundant a
University resource as an alumni organization of this size, strength,
diversity and range. And I have both leaders and the faculty and staff
they led and the alumni they produced very much in mind on a day like
today and am profoundly grateful to them all for helping to build the
foundation for the University we are today and will be in the future.
We now have a large number of older alums who are
including us most generously in their estate plans; we have many highly
successful alumni and alumnae like Joe Clayton and Angela Mason, now
sharing with Bellarmine so much of their hard-earned wealth; and now we
have our young alums – including you -- joining ranks, linking arms,
and helping us all march with great confidence and pride into our great
individual and institutional future. So welcome indeed, Class of 2007,
to the Bellarmine University Alumni Association!
As anyone who has attended or worked at an educational
institution knows – each class year, and thus each graduating class has
its own unique culture, character, personality, and style. The same
can be said of you -- but with the highest praise, “summa cum laude.”
As the faculty, staff and I have observed your Class of
2007 over your time here, you have revealed to us and to the world a
number of very impressive things about yourselves. I will mention a
few of them.
First of all, you are an exceptionally bright, talented
and intellectually and morally engaged class. The level of excellence
and the range of your academic achievement have been most
extraordinary, for example:
From Senior Music major Bart Mattingly’s achievement as
winner of the Kentucky Music Educators’ Association Collegiate
Composition Competition -- for his original five-part choral
composition on the text O Magnum Mysterium.
To the 15 Senior Biology majors being accepted into
medical, dental, pharmacy and other graduate programs.
To Jason Smith’s distinguished achievement in his
advanced study of the Japanese language, an achievement that also led to
his employment with a large, successful Japanese firm.
To Janelle Oliver’s award for the non-fiction
Metroversity Writing Contest, after winning the poetry prize the
To many other equally distinguished achievements by so
many of you.
You also are an exceptionally generous, service-oriented
class, generating with others over 21,000 hours of service in projects
ranging from Relay for Life and Bellarmine Volunteer Days to service
trips to Guatemala, Belize, Appalachia, Louisiana, and Mexico.
You also are a class that literally has Bellarmine in
your blood, heart and soul – in that there is an historic number of
Bellarmine legacy students among you. For example, one of our
Salutatorians, Sarah Todd’s parents went here and her sister, Trish,
our new SGA President is here. My legendary Administrative Assistant
Lucy Burns and her husband Ray are the parents of four children, two of
whom are at Bellarmine now, and one of whom, Ray, is our Class
Valedictorian -- and will be spending a year in Micronesia with
WorldTeach before entering graduate school at Cornell University.
Former Board of Overseers’ Chair and alumnus Don
Gossman’s daughter, Amy Gossman Dickinson, receives her MAT today.
The great Bellarmine Women’s Council leader, Peggy
Beuchler, is the mother-in-law of Kathleen Beuchler who receives her
degree in Art today.
And these are but a few examples of the record number of
Bellarmine legacies among you who graduate today. We celebrate each
one of you and your Bellarmine families.
And last but not least, yours is a class of great
passion, commitment and dedication to learning --across lifetimes and
under all sorts of challenging conditions.
Paula Warden, for example, used her extended hospital
experience occasioned by a serious illness to inspire the compelling art
work she exhibited this year in the McGrath Art Gallery.
In this regard, many of us think as well of our wonderful
friend and colleague, Stewart Alexander, who passed away this past
November at the age of 86 – after completing his Master of Arts degree
in the great program we share with the Louisville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary – in Spirituality. (I also take this moment to
acknowledge and thank two of our faculty colleagues from the Seminary –
Dr. Kathryn Johnson and Dr. Dianne Reistroffer for being with us
Your class has inspired us in so many ways as you are a
very special and unique class, the kind of class that comes together in
a university only a few times in the institution’s history. But the
particular characteristics I have mentioned, and others, make yours a
most memorable and successful class because of . . . .
Your academic excellence and enormous competitive
Your spirit of hospitality, generosity and service
across local, regional, national and international arenas.
Your love for Bellarmine, and your engagement in
creating and advancing the Bellarmine spirit through Bellarmine legacies
and through many, many other ways.
Your passion, commitment and dedication to lifelong
learning in the university and your related respect, affection and love
-- not only for one another but for those of us who teach and support
teaching here as well, inspire us and fill us with a great sense of
satisfaction, pride, joy, and deep gratitude. Thank you so much for
that great gift.
When I reflect on your class, the Bellarmine University
Class of 2007, it occurs to me that very quickly, very thoroughly, and
very deeply you picked up on who we are at Bellarmine, what Bellarmine
is all about – being an authentic, spirited community, a learning
community focused on helping you learn -- not only how to go about
making a meaningful living, but also becoming skilled and experienced
at continually creating and nurturing a life that is rich with real
meaning, value, efficacy and love.
As I close, therefore, and give you my presidential
charge to direct and guide your lives going forward, I note with much
pleasure and confidence that over just your few intense years with us,
you truly and fully “get it” as far as understanding and living what
Bellarmine is all about, who we are, what we stand for, what we
encourage in you.
That means that you and Bellarmine have been successful
not only in helping you earn a degree and receive a diploma – but in
the process you have been successful in earning a real Bellarmine
education as well!
My charge to you, therefore, is very clear and simple,
Class of 2007 – Keep up the good work, continue to live what you have
so impressively learned here, and of course continue to live, learn,
and love this way throughout your lives.
Speaking personally and also for the trustees, overseers,
faculty, staff and alumni of Bellarmine University, I wish you
congratulations, farewell, welcome, gratitude, love and Godspeed.
Dr. Joseph J. McGowan
May 12, 2007