2008 Fall Commencement Transcript

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[ANNOUNCER] Today’s world is marked by rapid change and technology unimaginable only a few years ago. But a simple message remains appropriate for graduates at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. State Representative Craig Fitzhugh addressed about twelve-hundred students participating in the fall commencement Saturday in Knoxville. Fitzhugh, himself a UT alumnus, mentioned a YouTube video that looks at the rapidly-changing nature of the world.

[FITZHUGH] You may have seen the You Tube Video – by Fisch, McLeod & Brenman. It is an eye-opening 6 minutes that speaks to the speed, complexity, and change of our time – of your time – the exponential generation.

[ANNOUNCER] The video lists facts such as the top ten jobs that will be in demand in 2010 did not exist in 2004, and that institutions are currently preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist. But Fitzhugh said the message he wanted to convey was inscribed on a box given to him by his wife Pam.

[FITZHUGH] I cannot ascertain the author of the quote inscribed upon the box, but I would like to share it with you as a fairly significant 15 words: Think deeply, speak gently, love much, laugh often, work hard, give freely and be kind. Written years ago, I believe these words may yet be significant in today’s frenetic, exponential world.

[ANNOUNCER] Fitzhugh said the message on the box speaks to him and to the graduates as they prepare for the rest of their lives.

[FITZHUGH] These 15 words are my wish for each of you on this special day and throughout your special life of challenges, opportunities, and successes. You may not see each other again, especially in this context, but you are forever bound as The University of Tennessee’s Class of 2008.

[ANNOUNCER] Fitzhugh, a Democratic representative from Ripley, Tennessee, has served in the state house since 1995. He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and a law degree from UT Knoxville, and his son Tom was among the students graduating Saturday. He said these days everyone is concerned with the economic situation and their future careers.

[FITZHUGH] As we are all aware, especially those looking to enter the work force, we are in the most challenging economic times since The Great Depression. The declining revenue in Tennessee is having a direct and detrimental effect on your university.

[ANNOUNCER] He added that UT needs all the support it can get, especially from its newest graduates.

[FITZHUGH] The University of Tennessee cannot and must not lose ground during these troubling times. Every dollar will assist our university to further its mission as a premier land-grant institution, both now and in the future. So when you can, consider giving back to your university or other student organization on campus that has had a positive effect on your college career or in your life.

[ANNOUNCER] Fitzhugh also said the state of Tennessee can benefit from its newest university alumni.

[FITZHUGH] Consider giving to this state by making your home here. Tennessee is a wonderful place to live, offering something from east to west for just about everybody. She has given us much and needs you even more. It may not be in your plans now, but consider your place in Tennessee.

[ANNOUNCER] State representative Craig Fitzhugh. Charles Primm reporting.