In his Commencement address today to the 1,140 students graduating from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), Curt Schilling, retired Red Sox pitcher, philanthropist, and founder of video game development company 38 Studios, urged the graduates to “make a positive impact” on the world.
“Make a difference in other people’s lives,” Schilling told the students. “You will find yourself, almost every day of your life from today forward, with a chance to change someone’s life for the better. If you take nothing else from today, if you are a [Red] Sox fan who may feel that you owe this retired, hobbled former pitcher a small slice of gratitude, that’s what I would ask of you. Act on it, reach out to someone and help, reach out to someone and make their lives a little bit better when you see an opportunity to do so.”
Watch videos of the Commencement address and other highlights of the ceremony.
WPI’s 142nd Commencement ceremony was held on the campus Quadrangle, where 720 Bachelor of Science degrees, 386 master’s degrees, and 34 PhDs were awarded. Thousands of students, their families and friends, trustees, and other special guests were on hand to experience the inspirational messages delivered by keynote speaker Schilling and WPI President Dennis Berkey.
In his closing remarks, President Berkey told students that in light of today’s global recession, they are well prepared to handle the world’s challenges. “In respect of the difficult world you are about to tackle, and especially in light of the economic calamities of the past year, let me recall the words of one of my predecessors, Admiral Wat Tyler Cluverius, the seventh president of WPI, who presided during the difficult days of World War II. Speaking to WPI students in 1945, following the war’s end, he said, ‘Perhaps this is the last time you will have to rebuild a world.’
“Unfortunately for us all, the world again needs rebuilding,” President Berkey continued. “Fortunately, you are well prepared for that ominous challenge, and we know you will play a great part in the rebuilding that must be done. In so doing, set no modest goals. Take inspiration in the enduring words of your fellow alumnus Robert Goddard: ‘It is difficult to say what is impossible,’ he said, ‘for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow.’ Shoot for the moon, as it were.”
Honorary degrees were conferred upon Schilling, Clark University President John Bassett (who received WPI’s first honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters), Angela Belcher, Germehausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering at MIT, and Gordon B. Lankton, chairman of Nypro Inc., and founder of the Museum of Russian Icons, both in Clinton, Mass.
The Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize was also presented for the fourth time during WPI’s 2010 Commencement. The prize was established in 2007 through the personal philanthropy of Donald K. Peterson ’71, chair of the WPI Board of Trustees. It recognizes faculty members who, as true exemplars of the university’s highest aspirations and most important qualities, excel in all relevant areas of faculty performance. One prize, in the amount of $10,000, was awarded this year to WPI Computer Science Professor Elke Rundensteiner.