Chancellor Douglas A. Girod

Speech: Chancellor Gray-Little's farewell to the Class of 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

So here we are, back where — for many of you — it all started.

Most of you were in this very stadium with me four years ago for Traditions Night, where you learned some of our unique KU traditions like the Rock Chalk Chant and the fight song clap.

But as you have learned over the past few years, being a Jayhawk runs deeper than a chant or a song. Together, you have learned that being a Jayhawk means being a leader, serving your community, striving to improve our world, and doing something bigger than yourself.

Today, you heard the inspiring stories of Sara Paretsky and Ada Sue Hinshaw, and the remarkable contributions they’ve made to our society. Across the country and world, you’ll find Jayhawks like Sara and Ada, putting their knowledge and talents into practice, whether they are in the boardroom, the newsroom, or the classroom. And you’ll see Jayhawks strengthening their communities by creating new companies, by volunteering, or by bringing people together to address society’s grand challenges.

As Jayhawks, we stand on the shoulders of the graduates who have walked down this Hill and committed themselves to carrying out our university's mission to make our world a better place. And when you leave here today, it’ll be your turn.

Of course, I know you’ll do great things when you leave here because of the things you've already done. For example, senior Maggie Young — who is here today — has been a volunteer helping domestic violence victims in our community. And School of Medicine graduate Marcus Rushing — in the midst of his training to become a doctor — took part in a pilgrimage to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964. Like Maggie and Marcus, many of you have already done great work, for which you should be proud.

While today is about celebrating your successes and aspirations, let’s also remember the challenges we’ve faced together. Across the world and here on campus, prominent among these challenges is the respect we show one another.

Every educator and every parent hopes the next generation will be better … and better off. And so over the past year, I suspect we have all at times been filled with high expectations, and at other times, with disappointment.

So, let me say this to you: As you leave this place, I ask that you dedicate yourself not only to doing well, but to doing good, and to being a good person.

As an institution of higher education, it is our duty to bring together people from all walks of life and to help them work past their differences in a thoughtful and respectful way, so we can achieve great things.

I hope this is part of the experience you can take with you as you go out into the world as KU alumni and as Jayhawks.

Now, graduates, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Regents of the State of Kansas, and upon the recommendation of the several faculties of the university, I now confer upon each of you the degree appropriate to your course of study, entitling you to all the rights, privileges and responsibilities pertaining to that degree.

Congratulations and Rock Chalk!

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.