University of Rochester

Seek Balance in Life, Retain Optimism, Rochester Graduates Urged

May 21, 2006

University of Rochester graduates were advised "Beware the 'tyranny of the or' . . . that life is about tradeoffs, prioritization, tough choices" by University President Joel Seligman during commencement ceremonies this morning. "In a well-rounded life, there is room for family, friends, community, and for many of you, for your faith as well," he said.

Presiding over his first commencement since taking the University's helm in 2005, Seligman told students to seek the balance in relationships, careers, and communities that works best for each individual.

The current generation "faces challenges and has opportunities every bit as significant as any that has lived before," Seligman said, referring to the achievements of "The Greatest Generation" that fought World War II. He urged graduates to remain optimistic despite global challenges in health, energy sustainability, and sectarian violence. Progress in science, business, and technology over the past century, together with the students' talents and education, offers opportunities for the class of 2006 to also be "the greatest generation," he said.

Seligman, a securities law expert and former dean of the School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, became the University of Rochester's 10th president on July 1, 2005.

Though an early rain threatened to mar the University's 156th commencement ceremony, bright sunlight greeted the procession of students, faculty, administrators, and honorary degree and award recipients as they walked past approximately 5,000 parents and guests gathered on the University's Eastman Quadrangle.

Recognized during the ceremony were former Rochester mayor William A. Johnson Jr., who received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws; Richard F. Fenno Jr., Distinguished University Professor of the University of Rochester, who received the honorary degree Doctor of Laws; and Jane E. Henney, senior vice president and provost for health affairs at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, who received the honorary degree Doctor of Science.

Martin E. Messinger, managing partner of the New York City investment firm of Neuberger & Berman, received the Charles Force Hutchison and Marjorie Smith Hutchison Medal, the highest honor given to a University of Rochester alumnus or alumna in recognition of outstanding achievements and service to community, state, or nation.

Graduates of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering totaled 1,094 receiving bachelor's and master's degrees this morning. Separate commencement ceremonies are held for the University of Rochester's Eastman School of Music, Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development, School of Nursing, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration. The University is conferring a total of 2,314 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in all divisions this academic year.