ROCHESTER, N.Y.— Graduates at the 155th commencement of the University of Rochester were reminded that they were all entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs “are seekers and inquirers, and their function is to reinvent society for the better, which is an ongoing and never-ending process, ” according to Carl Schramm.
Schramm, president and chief executive officer of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, was the recipient of the University’s Eastman Medal, which recognizes individuals who, through outstanding achievement and dedicated service, embody the high ideals for which the University stands. Under Schramm’s leadership, the Kaufmann Foundation, a philanthropic organization that focuses on entrepreneurship and youth education, has introduced several new initiatives. The Kauffman Scholars program assists low-income urban students prepare for and complete a college education. The Kauffman Campuses program awards grants to colleges and universities, including the University of Rochester, to embed entrepreneurship across schools, disciplines, and research.
Schramm was one of four honorees, each of whom made brief remarks, at the commencement ceremony for graduates receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. Donna Lopiano, executive director of the Women’s Sports Foundation, received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. Luigi Lucherini, mayor of the city of Arezzo in Italy, received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws. Robert B. Wegman, chairman of the Rochester-based Wegmans Food Markets Inc., was presented the honorary degree Doctor of Laws.
University of Rochester President Thomas J. Jackson presided over his last commencement ceremony after 11 years at the University’s helm. Joel Seligman, the Ethan A. H. Shepley University Professor and dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, will take office as the University’s 10th president on July 1.
Schramm emphasized that the entrepreneurial process of starting new ventures extended across business, education, and community service. Noting that in America political and economic freedom go hand in hand, he said the power of an entrepreneurial society “can be uncertain, it can be chaotic, and at times it can be painful. But it works, because it is a system based on people making their own ways.” He reminded students, “You must keep reinventing this world, to make it a better place for yourself and others.”
In her remarks, Lopiano underscored the progress made possible for women athletes since the enactment of Title IX, the 1972 federal law mandating gender equity in schools receiving federal funds. Describing sports as “an important institution to learn how to compete and succeed in society,” she noted that 80 percent of female executives at Fortune 500 companies reported having played sports. Lopiano pointed out, however, that sedentary lifestyles and obesity are contributing to the national increase in health problems like Type 2 diabetes, and called for renewed emphasis on physical activities for youth.
Wegman, who is chair of one of the country’s most successful food retailers, called the company’s ranking by Fortune magazine this year as the best company to work for as “culmination of my whole life’s work.” He credited a lesson learned from a nun in grade school about heaven, explaining, “Never worry about yourself, always take care of others. If you do that, you’re well on your way.”
Lucherini was recently elected to a second five-year term as mayor of Arezzo. He explained how the small city’s economic and civic development programs have placed it near the top of three national quality-of-living surveys of Italian cities while recapturing its ancient splendor. Lucherini’s cultural and educational initiatives include support for the College’s international programs in Arezzo, and he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to come to the University as an ambassador for his city.
The Rochester area’s famously unreliable weather cooperated for the College commencement ceremony. The 6,000 people at the 9 a.m. ceremony, held outdoors on the Eastman Quadrangle on the River Campus, enjoyed the warmth of the sun and the occasional breeze blowing in from the adjacent Genesee River
The morning ceremony was for the 1,175 candidates for bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering. Separate commencement ceremonies also were held today for the Eastman School of Music, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, and the School of Nursing. The University of Rochester is conferring a total of 2,378 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees this year, including the School of Medicine and the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration.