Boston University Commencement 2016

(processional music playing) (processional music continues) Hey, Mom and Dad! >> Love you, Mom! (processional music playing) (Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance”
march playing) (“Pomp and Circumstance”
march continues) (music stops) (applause) >> The 143rd commencement
of Boston University is now in order. (applause) Please rise
for the national anthem to be led by Ms. Denise Ward, who is graduating with her
bachelor’s degree in music from the College of Fine Arts. Following the anthem, please remain standing
for the invocation. (band playing introduction) ♪ O say, can you see
by the dawn’s early light ♪ ♪ What so proudly we hailed ♪ ♪ At the twilight’s
last gleaming ♪ ♪ Whose broad stripes
and bright stars ♪ ♪ Through the perilous fight ♪ ♪ O’er the ramparts we watched
were so gallantly streaming? ♪ ♪ And the rockets’ red glare,
the bombs bursting in air ♪ ♪ Gave proof through the night
that our flag was still there ♪ ♪ O say, does that star-spangled
banner yet wave ♪ ♪ O’er the land of the free
and the home of the brave. ♪ (applause) >> The invocation
will be delivered by Mary Elizabeth Moore,
Dean of the School of Theology. Thereafter, President Brown will
preside over the ceremonies. >> May the spirit of holy wonder
fill this place. On this eve of tomorrow, look to your left
and look to your right. You are beautiful. (laughter and cheering) You are each unique and you are part
of the unique Class of 2016. Yes! Yet you gather on this common
ground of Boston University, touched
by Howard Thurman’s vision of common ground
for all peoples. Living in the city
of the Boston Common, alongside the River Charles’
sparkling waters, linking land and sea, under the vast sky
that stretches across our planet and far beyond. On this eve of tomorrow,
we celebrate you and we hold in memory a Boston University
graduate of 2015, Father Vincent Machozi,
who returned home to the Democratic Republic
of the Congo to work for a just
and peaceful nation, documenting human rights
violations, serving as priest and teacher, and gathering leaders
who are passionate for justice. On the eve of March 20, 12 military gunmen
found him in his home village and killed him
in a hail of bullets. His last words were,
“Why are you killing?” On this eve of tomorrow, we pray for no more killing,
no more injustice. We pray for peace. On this eve of tomorrow,
we gather as Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists,
Hindus, Sikhs, agnostics, atheists,
and humanists, yet we all know wonder– the wonder of discovery,
the wonder of the unknown. Holy wonder. And we all know some measure
of compassion and justice. We know it when we see it
and we know it when we don’t. You graduates have
the spirit and power to make better tomorrows. May wonder travel with you as you travel into new commons,
new days, and may your lives be marked
by compassion and justice. Amen. (applause) >> Please be seated. Good afternoon, and welcome to Boston University’s
commencement exercises. It is a pleasure to welcome
the graduates and their guests and also to welcome those of you
who are joining us via broadcast on the radio
and on the internet. I now present
Ms. Debra Marcus, a senior, who will receive
her bachelor’s degree from the College of Arts
and Sciences. She will speak on behalf
of the Class of 2016. Ms. Marcus. (applause) >> President Brown,
trustees, faculty and the Class of 2016! (cheering) It would be easy
for this speech to feel generic to the point where
it could be inserted into the commencement
proceedings of any college and fit perfectly. I could talk
about the nervousness we all felt
upon arriving here, the dining hall food, the struggle of learning
how to do laundry. The well-worn list
is pretty long, and all of that
would be relevant and valid, and it would be a good speech. But it wouldn’t come close
to doing justice to the experience of being
a Boston University student. (cheering) Thank you. A few months ago,
a friend of my mother’s asked me to speak
to her daughter, a high school sophomore,
about college admissions and the college experience
in general. We met at a Dunkin’ Donuts– where else could I go
as a Boston resident?– and she asked me
if I liked my school, if I had made friends,
if I was happy there. And I found myself choked up,
and I said yes. But how do you distill
what it means to get a BU education into a half-hour conversation
over a latte? How was I supposed to describe
the rush of excitement of waking up every day
in a city I adore, where I hope to live
for the rest of my life? How could I possibly encapsulate
the intellectual vitality of my friends
and my professors and the very air on this campus? There are some things you can
only really understand by living them. Being a BU student
is one of those things. And that is the experience
we all share, that we are here today
to celebrate. Before I continue,
I have a confession. I am a transfer student. (cheering) I came here in the spring
of my sophomore year. I never was a BU freshman. Some of you may now be concerned that a person who only amounts
to five-eighths of a Terrier is your commencement
representative, but though my BU experience
was somewhat condensed, this school has utterly reshaped
who I am, and I think it’s reasonable
to say that no matter how much time
we’ve spent here, we have all in some way
been transformed. So how did BU transform me? BU transformed me by offering a class
on music and civil rights that expanded my world view to include entire generations
of activists and songs I had never heard of
or thought about. BU transformed me
by letting me be a first-year student outreach
project staff member… (cheering) …and welcome new students
to this school and this city just as I was welcomed
two-and-a-half years ago. BU transformed me
by putting me in a place where I could befriend people
from the Middle East, from the West Coast,
from South America, all of us from different
starting points, but gathered here,
right here, to exchange ideas
for our mutual betterment. How did BU transform
all of us? Through our academics, we were exposed to more than
just our own lived experiences and to mindsets we may have
otherwise never encountered. Through extracurriculars, we were able to explore things
that weren’t initially our goals but that became our passions
and our loves. Through conversations with
people from all backgrounds, we could nurture our ability
to be kind, to listen, to start to understand
those different from ourselves. We will walk out of here today
as graduates of one of the few universities
in the nation with cadaver labs
for undergraduates. (cheering) A school with undoubtedly the swankiest two-story
dining hall there is. A university
with a staggering variety of people and perspectives,
all connected by a mutual love of
and pride in this school. Being at BU meant
feeling like I belonged, not just among my particular
circle of friends, but with everyone I met here. I felt supported and cared for, and that has fundamentally
changed who I am and how I approach the world. I can tell you with confidence I have absolutely no idea
what the future will bring. I would not have predicted that
I would end up here, but BU has given all of us a tremendous arsenal
of skills and tools that reach beyond
just academic knowledge. And that means no matter what,
we are prepared to move forward, and we will continue to grow
to redefine our identities, to improve the lives
of those around us, because that is how BU
has transformed us. We have learned how to be
our best selves. I hope that your lives
bring you unexpected joys. I hope that each of you thrives
in all of your pursuits, and I hope that one day,
in ten, 20, 50 years, you too will have
the opportunity to tell a dedicated, motivated,
knowledge-hungry, aspiring Terrier what it meant to you
to attend Boston University. Class of 2016, thank you,
and congratulations. (applause) >> Thank you, Ms. Marcus. I would now like to call upon
Monica Meiterman-Rodriguez, a graduating senior from
the College of Communication, and Juliana Zeta Freeman, a graduating senior from the
College of Arts and Sciences. (applause) >> Thank you, President Brown. As civil rights leader
and alumnus Martin Luther King, Jr.
once said, life’s most persistent
and urgent question is, what are you doing for others? >> Throughout our four years
here at Boston University, each and every one of us
has come alive and thrived due to the many contributions
made to this community both inside and outside
the classroom. Today, as we become BU alumni,
we must think back on what and whom
have contributed to making BU our home. Both through academics
and extracurriculars, we have formed bonds
and friendships with mentors, professors,
and each other that will last forever. >> Over the course
of our senior year, we set out to answer
Dr. King’s question and figure out how we,
as a class, could give back to BU. Thanks to the generous donors
to the BU Class Gift campaign, we hope to help this university continue to provide amazing
opportunities and memories for future Terriers. You all gave
to individual funds, like the Lu Lingzi Scholarship,
the Community Service Center… >> I Chase the Cure. >> Your individual schools
and colleges, and my personal favorite,
BU on Broadway. (cheering) >> With 2,705 participants,
the 2016 BU Class Gift campaign was the most successful campaign
in Boston University’s history. (cheering) We would like to thank
the Class of 2016 for your incredible generosity. We would also like to thank our very dedicated board
and committee members as well as our immensely
supportive supervisors. >> As we set out to start
the next chapter of our lives as alumni of this wonderful
university, we will continue to contribute
our time and resources to making an even better BU. >> President Brown, on behalf of Boston University’s
newest alumni, I would like to announce
the Class Gift of $95,000. (applause) >> Thank you. Thank you,
Ms. Meiterman-Rodriguez and Ms. Freeman, and thank you,
the Class of 2016. The class gift is
a tangible expression of your commitment
to Boston University. This commitment began when
you first enrolled as students and is confirmed today as you
move into the ranks of alumni. In the life of a university, faculty come and go,
presidents come and go, but alumni are its constant, the unending link of its past,
present, and future. I am now pleased to present
Wayne Positan, president of the Boston
University Alumni Council, who will speak to you on behalf
of the Alumni Association. Mr. Positan. (applause) >> Thank you, Dr. Brown. Congratulations,
Class of 2016. (cheering) On behalf of your fellow
312,000 alumni, I offer you well-earned
congratulations on the completion
of your degrees. And to your parents,
family members, and significant others
here with you today, we thank you as well for all the support
you have provided to them. Today, you have completed
one journey, and you now embark on another. Being from New Jersey, I would be remiss in not
offering you some sage advice… Go Jersey! (laughter) …from two fellow Jerseyans
to help you on your journey. First, a bit of a paraphrase
from a Jon Bon song: “It’s your life,
it’s now or never, “we’re not going
to live forever, just make sure you live
when you’re alive.” So many challenges lie ahead
for all of us. One thing to make sure
when you go on that journey is to always take a little time
to enjoy that life. Secondly, and I have tried
to follow this as much as I can, you all know
what Yogi Berra said: “You come to a fork
in the road, take it.” Absolutely infallible advice. Today, on behalf
of all of those Terriers who have come before you, I welcome you
to your Alumni Association. Our alumni live in 185 countries
around the world. In today’s world
of social media, 230,000 of them
are on LinkedIn, 73,000 follow Facebook,
so always remember, you are only a click away
from another Terrier. You have all witnessed with me the incredible transformative
uplift of Boston University under the great leadership
of Dr. Brown and the board of trustees. You have joined with your
record-breaking class gift in achieving
the incredible success that we have experienced with
the continuing capital campaign. We are all truly proud of what we see and feel
going on at BU. An old New England saying
comes to mind: a rising tide lifts all boats. Every one of us
feels that pride at BU in the value of the education and relationships
we have made here. When you come back in 2017, you will be
the first class of alumni to be welcomed
to the new Alumni Center in the 101-year-old castle, another long-thought-about
pipe dream that will now become a reality. I like to say that people should never forget
where they came from. That applies to us together
as alumni. You will take a variety of paths
from here, some to graduate school,
some to jobs, some to other forms of service. With that success
comes responsibility– responsibility to your families,
your communities, and yes, to where you came from:
Boston University. The BU Alumni Association
will be there to help you. Some 50,000 BU alums
have gathered in the last year more than 900 times, nearly three times a day
throughout the world. Stay involved. Participate. Be there to do your part
in contributing to the continuing success
that all of us share as an important part of
the Boston University community, and to making sure
that others who follow have that same opportunity. As you move forward,
you will find that many people look back
to their college years and say, “Well, that was the best
four years of my life.” I know differently. This is not an end. It’s a beginning. You will have the opportunity
to make a real difference in this challenging world
that we all live in. We know you will make
the most of it. Or as another New Jerseyan
from Hoboken said, “The best is yet to come.” Go for it. BU, congratulations. (applause) >> Thank you, Mr. Positan. Teaching is an art. It is also one of the most
important functions of the university, as it helps to mold
the next generation of informed citizens
and creative thinkers, many of whom are here today. The late
Dr. Arthur G. B. Metcalf, an alumnus, faculty member,
and trustee, founded and endowed
the Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching
at Boston University to recognize great practitioners
of this art. Candidates for the award are nominated by members of
the Boston University community, and a committee
of faculty and students then submits its recommendations to the university provost
and to me. It is indeed difficult to select a winner
of the Metcalf Cup and Prize because all of the candidates
are outstanding. Two finalists in the competition will receive the Metcalf Award
for Excellence in Teaching. Will Dean of the College
of Arts and Sciences Ann Cudd please present the winner
of the 2016 Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching? (applause) >> President Brown,
I have the honor to present Manher Jariwala, winner
of the 2016 Metcalf Award. (applause) >> A lecturer in the Department
of Physics since 2007, Dr. Manher Jariwala is
a nationally recognized leader in the study, improvement,
and advancement of physics education
at all levels. He is prolific in his contribution
to literature in the field and widely honored
for his gifts as an educator. At Boston University,
his pedagogical innovation has had significant,
far-reaching impact. Based on cognitive
research findings that students learn better
by doing than by watching, he has transformed
introductory physics into an interactive experience
that engages students. Through his learning
assistant program, he has pioneered the use
of students as partners in science, technology,
engineering, and math education. And as part of his
responsibilities in training
graduate teaching fellows, he has initiated the Teaching
As Research Fellowship Program. Dr. Jariwala’s
innovative methods are, in the words of a colleague, transforming how students learn
at BU. In the words of students,
he is enthusiastic and friendly with the ability
to simplify subjects and explain them to anyone. It is not unusual for students to praise him as their favorite
or best professor. Dr. Jariwala’s commitment
to education is inspiring and his results exemplary. Boston University is proud
to present Dr. Manher Jariwala with the Metcalf Award
for Excellence in Teaching. (applause) Will Dean of the College
of Arts and Sciences Ann Cudd please present the winner
of the 2016 Metcalf Award for Excellence in Teaching? >> President Brown,
I have the honor to present Erin Murphy, winner
of the 2016 Metcalf Award. (applause) >> For over a decade, Dr. Erin Murphy
has brightened the university with a combination of enthusiasm
and innovation as a professor of English and women’s, gender,
and sexuality studies. She is a strong proponent
of student participation, and her classes are known
for lively discussion and the introduction
of new methods of learning, including the use
of live performance, film, and new media
in the study of literature. Dr. Murphy also has shown
remarkable versatility, teaching 16 different courses
while at BU, ranging from an introduction
to Shakespeare for non-majors to the theoretical formations
of family and kinship. Her groundbreaking graduate
seminar on gender and sexuality has become almost legendary
for its scope, ambition, and appeal to students from
across schools and disciplines. Students described
Dr. Murphy’s classroom as a charged, intellectual
atmosphere, her courses as challenging,
rewarding, and surprisingly enjoyable, and her enthusiasm as infectious
and inspiring. A colleague sums up her value
to the university thus… I’ve got to turn the page. (laughter) “Creative, resourceful,
and generous, “she does not just teach
great classes; she strengthens the educational
environment at BU.” A gifted scholar and educator,
Professor Murphy unlocks the considerable joys
of learning to help create new generations of outstanding scholars
and professionals. For this, Boston University
proudly presents Dr. Erin Murphy with the Metcalf Award
for Excellence in Teaching. (applause) Will Dean Sandro Galea
of the School of Public Health present the winner of the 2016
Metcalf Cup and Prize for Excellence in Teaching? >> President Brown, I have the honor to present
Christopher Gill, winner of the 2016
Metcalf Cup and Prize. (applause) >> Dr. Christopher Gill began
teaching international health at Boston University in 2002,
took a professional hiatus at Novartis Vaccines and
Diagnostics from 2008 to 2010, and returned to BU in 2011. The hiatus was critical, for one of Dr. Gill’s
foremost gifts is his unique ability to blend his pharmaceutical
expertise into his courses. This gift is most prominently
on display in his innovative course “Clinical Development
of a New Medicinal,” a living simulation where
students compete and collaborate to take a vaccine from basic
science to regulatory approval. The course reflects Dr. Gill’s
creative approach and commitment to the practical application
of academic learning. But it barely scratches
the surface of Dr. Gill’s prolific
contributions to BU. He has been recognized
by colleagues at the School
of Public Health with numerous awards
for his superior teaching, innovative course design,
and mentoring of students. Students praise
a dynamic, enthusiastic, and available professor with a great grasp
of the subject matter who prompts deep,
critical thinking. Prodigiously published,
in demand as a peer reviewer, and leader of four
funded research projects, Dr. Gill nonetheless places
a priority on teaching that is inspired and inspiring. Boston University is honored
to present Dr. Christopher Gill with the university’s
highest teaching award, the Metcalf Cup and Prize
for Excellence in Teaching. (applause) We now present the candidates for the university’s
honorary degree. Will Trustees Carla Meyer
and Stuart Pratt escort our honored guests
to the podium? >> Mr. President. >> Trustee Meyer. >> Mr. President,
it is my honor to present Carrie Hessler-Radelet for Boston University’s
honorary degree. (applause) >> 35 years ago, a recent
graduate of Boston University seeking a purpose in life sat down for a heart-to-heart
talk with her grandmother. The world got lucky that day. The grandmother was
a former Peace Corps volunteer, and the young BU graduate
was you. Thus began a long career
of commitment to helping people in need
around the world. It wasn’t long
before you yourself were a volunteer
in far-off Western Samoa, teaching school and launching
a public awareness campaign for disaster preparedness. You worked with the Special
Olympics in the Gambia. You helped expand
educational opportunities for girls around the world and dispatched doctors
and nurses to developing countries. You promoted global awareness and expanded treatment
of HIV/AIDS and advanced maternal
and child health. In short, you helped humanity. You made the world
a better place. Now the circle is complete. You returned
to the Peace Corps in 2010 and were sworn in
as director in 2014. You have improved the safety
and security of volunteers and attracted a record-breaking
number of applications. The organization is thriving. One of America’s best ideas
has become even better because of your devoted
stewardship. Carrie Hessler-Radelet,
your humane and selfless actions inspire us to look
beyond ourselves to a greater good. Boston University is proud
to call you an alumna and to confer upon you the degree Doctor of Laws,
Honoris Causa. (applause) >> Will Trustees Kenneth Menges
and Ryan Roth Gallo escort our honored guest
to the podium? >> Mr. President. >> Trustee Menges. >> We have the honor to present
the honorable Ernest Moniz for Boston University’s
honorary degree. (applause) >> It is the stuff
of the American dream. The grandson
of Portuguese immigrants and the son
of a tire factory worker, you come from modest means
but great aspirations. With perseverance and brains, you have plumbed the secrets
of the universe, earned through your research
and teaching the wisdom and stature
that has made you worthy of the immense responsibility
you now shoulder as Secretary of Energy. Your accomplishments are both
prolific and prodigious. As a student, you graduated from
Boston College summa cum laude and earned a Ph.D.
in theoretical physics from Stanford. (crowd murmuring) (laughter) As head of the Bates Linear
Accelerator Center at MIT, you have expanded our knowledge
of how the universe works. As a professor at MIT, you have prepared and inspired
a generation of scientists who have gone on to make their
own significant contributions. As a superbly knowledgeable
negotiator, you shaped the details
of the nuclear accord with Iran and secured Russian
nuclear materials. (applause) Serving under two presidents, you have been responsible
for such critical matters as fostering global security
and protecting the environment. And you have been knighted
by the president of Portugal. Not bad for a kid
from Fall River, Massachusetts. (applause) Ernest Moniz, you have made the world
safer, smarter, and better. We and future generations
owe you a great debt, perhaps greater than
we are yet aware. As a show of our gratitude,
respect, and admiration, Boston University is proud
to confer upon you the degree Doctor of Law,
Honoris Causa. (applause) >> Will trustees
Ronald Garriques and John Howe escort our honored guest
to the podium? (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Trustee Garriques. >> Mr. President, we have the honor
to present Travis Roy… (cheering) …for Boston University’s
honorary degree. >> You came to Boston University as a brilliant hockey talent
and a prospective professional, but after 11 seconds on the ice, a spinal cord injury
ended your career and left you paralyzed
at 20 years of age. No one would have blamed you
if you had quit, but there’s just one thing:
you don’t know how. (cheering) Instead, you forged ahead
with rehabilitation and graduated five years later. Then you did something
even more extraordinary: you began helping people. You created a foundation that has raised millions
of dollars for research
on spinal cord injuries and assistance for the injured. You traveled the country
giving motivational speeches that inspired audiences
from business titans to children. You have become
a prominent voice in the movement
to help and heal, offering compelling testimony, including testimony in a United
States Senate hearing. Countless lives are better because you wouldn’t–
couldn’t– quit. You also brought out
the best in us. Your coach and still
close friend Jack Parker has said that your injury was the worst thing that ever
happened to him as coach, but the best is how
the Boston University community rallied around you. You may have been on the ice
for just 11 seconds, but you are always
in our hearts. Your uniform number is retired. Your spirit never will be. Travis Roy,
philanthropist, activist, inspiration, and Terrier, it is with great pride that
we confer upon you the degree Doctor of Humane Letters,
Honoris Causa. (applause) Will Trustees Kenneth Feld
and Robert Knox escort our honored guest
to the podium? >> Mr. President. >> Trustee Feld. >> We are honored to present
Nina Tassler for Boston University’s
honorary degree. (applause) >> When most of us want to see
something better on television, we change the channel. You, on the other hand,
changed television. Not overnight, of course. You grew up dreaming of acting. Then you came to Boston
University to study theater, as so many
extraordinary actors have. Geena Davis was your roommate. It must have been
quite some room to hold that much talent. You both became superstars
and friends for life. Your place turned out to be
not in front of the camera, but behind the scenes. With almost clairvoyant insight
for recognizing and then developing
popular programs, you climbed the rung… you climbed rung by rung to
chairman of CBS Entertainment, leaving the glass ceiling
in shards beneath you. (cheering) You succeeded
beyond your wildest dreams. But then, who could have dreamt
all this? Your programming has stood
the test of time. “ER” was on the air 15 years; “How I Met Your Mother,” nine; “Criminal Minds,”
11 and counting. And you’ve kept us
on the edge of our seats with “The Good Wife” and laughing out loud
at “The Big Bang Theory.” You developed
blockbuster franchises like “CSI” and “NCIS.” You also generously contributed
your time and energy to charities
and media organizations, and have served your alma mater as a wise and highly
knowledgeable trustee. Through it all, you not only
raised two children, but compiled a luminous book to help others raise
empowered daughters. Nina Tassler, you are
an exemplar and inspiration as well as an executive
and entertainer. Boston University is proud
to confer upon you the degree of doctor of humane letters,
honoris causa. (applause) I now call upon Nina Tassler
to deliver the 143rd commencement address
of Boston University. (applause) >> Whoo! Thank you, President Brown, fellow members
of the board of trustees, faculty, honored guests,
and graduates. Good afternoon. I am so honored to return
to my alma mater and share this auspicious day
with you. Earlier this year,
I was organizing a dinner for new BU parents and alums
in the Los Angeles area, so when President Brown called, I assumed he was calling
to discuss the menu or schedule
for the evening’s events. Never in my wildest dreams
did I think he was calling to invite me to speak
at commencement. I was beyond flattered,
confused, and immediately convinced I could come up
with a far better choice. He politely declined my offer
and said, “Nina, tell your story. I think your personal journey
is inspiring and relatable.” Well, I’m not sure
how inspiring or relatable my journey has been, but I can guarantee that
you are far better prepared to begin your career
than I ever was. My passionate ambitions
at graduation now seem so unlikely to lead me
to where I am today. In coming to speak with you
this afternoon, I reflected on the emotional
roller coaster I felt when I sat in your seat. But I distinctly recall
first feeling grateful– grateful that I had
actually graduated. And second, terrified–
terrified that I had graduated. I suspect you feel the same way. I hope you are grateful
to your parents for not just paying your tab
at The Dugout… (laughter) …or keeping
your Starbucks app filled, but grateful to have arrived
at this moment with the love and support
of all family and friends, many present,
and sadly long gone… and some long gone,
who stood by your side, to give thanks
and express gratitude on this day and each day
going forward to the people who have
selflessly helped you and will make you a better,
happier person. Dealing with the fear I felt
and have felt too often since, well, that’s a little trickier. It will most likely
reveal itself in different forms
throughout your life. Be it fear of failure
or fear of success, fear of the unknown
or fear of rejection or fear of shame, accepting fear head-on
is freeing. As my hero
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “When you have the strength,
courage, and conviction “to look fear in the face,
you are able to say to yourself, “‘I have lived
through this horror. I can take the next thing
that comes along.'” The best antidote to fear is your curiosity, passion,
and creativity. The steps you take
from this moment on, the same steps I took
some from 40 years ago, should be,
as shared by Erica Jong, to accept fear
as a part of life– specifically,
the fear of change. I have gone ahead
despite the pounding in my heart that says, “Turn back.” Embracing change and confronting
fear will serve you well. I believe I had embraced
elements of that philosophy, but it was my time at BU that gave me the strength
to challenge these insecurities. Over the course of my life
and career, that frightened voice,
that pounding in my heart has been ever present,
yet I have never turned back. So I hope in sharing my story,
there is solace in knowing that fear can be a normal and highly motivating part
of your journey. How did I go
from graduating from BU with a degree in acting–
yes, a degree in acting… (cheering) …to becoming
the longest-running female network chief in the
history of broadcast television? (cheering) And then humbly, what kind
of chutzpah does it take to step away
from that hard-won position and a 30-year career
in television to pursue different
creative ambitions, devote myself
to nonprofit causes, and to publish a book,
a collection of essays from mothers
in positions of leadership on raising their daughters to be the next generation
of empowered women? (cheering) >> Ballsy, or so I’ve been told,
crazy, too. My ability to assess a situation
and reset my career GPS started my first day at BU. When I arrived on campus
as a freshman, my father drove me
in our faux wood paneled Country Squire station wagon
from Florida to Boston. We carried my boxes
and single suitcase up the stairs
of a really nice brownstone at 37 Carlton Street
in Brookline. As we walked by the doors,
looking from my room, I noticed little cut-out flowers made of construction paper
on each door. There were names written
on each flower– women’s names. Only women’s names. I very quickly realized
that my dorm was one of the few remaining
all-girls dorms on campus. Are you kidding me? This was 1975. By 1973, 30 states had ratified
the equal rights amendment, co-ed dorms were on campuses
around the country, I was a dedicated feminist, “Our Bodies, Ourselves”
was published in 1971 by the Boston Women’s
Health Book Collective. What was going on? I made the best of my situation, especially since
the rooms were big and we had a private dining room
in the basement which as you can imagine
was fabulous during the bitter
Boston winters. Best part of all, the friends and roommates I had
while I lived at Brooke Hall are some of my best friends
to this day. Being at BU in the ’70s felt like I was at the epicenter
of the universe. Although the College
of Fine Arts was an island unto itself,
and I was enrolled… (cheering) …and I was enrolled in a conservatory-like
curriculum, when I ventured out
onto Commonwealth Avenue to other parts
of the university, my world exploded. Taking a holocaust class
taught by Elie Wiesel or listening to lectures
by Edward Albee or even attending a rally
protesting tuition hikes where then-president
John Silber… (cheering) …when then-president
John Silber had less than an enthusiastic
response to our demands. Whether I knew it then or would
come to realize it much later, my goals were shifting and the person
I always felt I was was evolving too. I came to college
with one defined goal: to study acting,
move to New York, and work on Broadway. Seemed pretty straightforward. The education and training
I received at BU was world-class. But I will also be forever be
in BU’s debt for my husband,
fellow alum Jerry Levine. We met as freshmen in 1975
at CFA and married in 1984. While in school together, Jerry hired me
as an assistant director on a musical revue
he was producing. Not only did we experience
the thrill of creating something together
from nothing, we also fell in love. After 32 years of marriage
and two beautiful children, family is still the foundation
of our lives. I had chosen a profession,
acting, that was rife with rejection. Would I always have
the confidence to persevere? My family was unconventional. I am the daughter
of a Jewish father and a Puerto Rican mother. (cheering) Would I face discrimination
and anti-Semitism? I wore my feminism
like a badge of honor. After all,
BU was the first university to open all its divisions
to female students. (cheering) Would I encounter sexism? And what about my politics? I had been active in political
campaigns my whole life, as a kid being enlisted
to lick envelopes at the campaign headquarters of Gene McCarthy
and George McGovern. Would I always maintain
my commitment to activism? Would I ever work
for a candidate that won? (laughter) Thankfully, thankfully, the answer to that question
and these questions was yes. However, it was not
until I moved to Los Angeles and horribly struggled
to find work as an actor that the answers to those
questions would be revealed. I pounded the pavement
to find a job just to pay the bills
until my acting career took off, taking typing tests, poring over the Help Wanted
pages, networking, anything, anywhere. My roommate from school and best friend to this day,
Geena Davis– again, thank you, BU– set me up on a general meeting
with her agent. After that meeting, I thought,
“Hey, I can do this. “I can be an agent, at least until my big break
as an actor.” I knew the questions
actors would ask about auditions, acting,
and material. I knew how to talk
to casting directors, producers and directors
and writers. After all, I’d been introduced
to all of these things in acting school. I finally landed a job
as a receptionist. Yep, a receptionist. Getting coffee,
handing out bathroom keys, taking phone messages,
making photocopies, all the really good stuff. Panic began to rise that this might be the highlight
of my show business career, but I desperately tried
to exude confidence. Soon after, a friend
recommended me to an agent at a large, prestigious agency, at the time one of the four
biggest agencies in the world. This was a pivotal time
in my life and career. I had been preparing, working
toward a career as an actor, but here I was with
an opportunity of a lifetime that required
my abandoning my dream and working toward
a new reality. This is when the first
major existential crisis hit. If I became an agent, did that mean I had failed
as an actor? I found myself learning from some of the most
experienced agents in the business and working with some
of the biggest names in Hollywood,
from Morgan Freeman to Julie Andrews
to Bruce Willis. Yet there were still
challenges ahead. All over Hollywood, I was exposed to sexist
and derogatory language used to describe actresses
and female agents. The myth of a casting couch, not a myth after all,
but a scandalous reality. My commitment to feminism was pushing me further
and further away from a career as an agent. I had increasing doubt about the current state
of my so-called career. How was I going to thrive,
let alone just survive, in a business where sexism,
racism, nepotism, narcissism, cronyism, and every other
nasty -ism you can think of had reared its ugly head to me
at one time or another? This is was the time
to persevere, to find a way to fight
against the prevailing culture and look for a way
to have more influence over the status quo. But insecurity and doubt
crept into my psyche. I realized that fear
can serve two masters. It can paralyze or motivate. I heard about a job opening in development
at Warner Brothers television. I believed I’d be able to access
the training, knowledge, and discipline
from my training at BU combined with my acquired business and sales experience
as a talent agent to pursue what I hoped would be
a career defining opportunity. It would be at Warner Brothers where I would spend my days
in the trenches listening to writers
tell stories, watching actors audition,
reading new material, and scouring articles to come up
with new ideas for TV shows. Then I got to sell them to one
of the five television networks. I loved this process, and realized that sometimes
the career you end up with has no logical connection
to where you began. Witnessing the creative and therapeutic benefits
of change was an epiphany. One of my favorite stories
from my time was the origin of the long-time
hit series “ER,” which I was fortunate
to be a part of. “ER” was originally
a movie script called “EW”
by Michael Crichton based on his experiences
as a residents. The script was roughly
120 pages long, over 80 speaking parts, and more medical dialogue
than you can imagine. The trick was taking this
massively dense feature script and turning it
into a relatable pilot that would serve as
a comprehensive introduction to the medical world
and its characters. If not for the genius
of writer/producer John Wells, who saw the exquisite literary
sculpting of the script and extraordinary chemistry
of the cast, the show might never have seen
the light of day. I can still remember
when George Clooney– yes, George Clooney, who had been under a deal
with Warner Brothers that had already produced
four busted pilots with him– walked into my office,
sat down, and questioned me on the fate
of the script called “ER.” He loved the part
of Dr. Doug Ross, but he had been offered
a competing project at NBC and worried that “ER” was dead. There was no way
I could assuage his concern for the fate of the project. I shared with him that
I had no tea leaves, I had no crystal ball, but had faith in the material
and the process. Even George Clooney was scared. “ER” went on to run
for 15 years, becoming the longest running
primetime medical drama in American TV history. It won 13 Emmy awards and
received 124 Emmy nominations, which makes it the most
nominated drama program in history. Long story short,
“ER” was a huge success, and I think George
has done just fine. (laughter) The final chapter,
or shall I say the most recent phase
of my career, has been the most
transformative. I joined CBS in 1997 when
the network was in last place. In terms of the Hollywood
food chain, network television was
the big leagues, but I was also essentially
starting over again, still making key
creative decisions, but as a buyer of content
as opposed to being a seller. I was grateful to finally be
in the position to push back against the many -isms
that still plagued our business. I could hire more women, I could hire
more people of color and expand a dedicated
diversity division creating programs
and opportunities for those historically
underrepresented within our industry. (cheering) Now, all of this
was not without risk. The shelf life
for a network executive was legendarily short-lived. I would be judged daily
on success or failure based on ratings. The risk of being fired was
an absolute daily reality. It was also a bittersweet irony to find myself
at the “Tiffany” network as my father,
who’d recently passed away, had been an audio engineer
with CBS in 1955. Although he did not live
to witness my accomplishment, I felt him by my side every day. I have made CBS my home
for close to 20 years. I began as vice president
of drama series development and rose through the ranks
to president and ultimately chairman
of CBS Entertainment in 2014. I was responsible
for the overall management of every day part
in the entertainment division. Having been a part
of CBS’s resurrection as the number one network
gives me great pride. Over the years,
I bought and developed some of the most successful
shows in television history, from “CSI” to “The Big Bang
Theory” to “The Good Wife.” Once again, the creative point
of origin for these shows is dramatically different from
how they will be remembered. Our business is undergoing
a seismic transformation, from streaming
to content creation, delivery systems,
multiplatform programming, cord cutting, virtually
an entirely new vernacular with an ever-evolving
and emerging new revenue model. It’s been a revolution,
not an evolution. No doubt
you will encounter people through the course of your life who will seem to have it all
figured out. I know I did. They may even offer you
a tutorial on how to walk, talk,
and dress for success. Only half listen. Because each of you, each of you
has invested in yourselves. You are chockful of knowledge,
but more importantly, you’ve written an important
chapter of your life story. Your whole unique
and personal experience at BU, from living on your own
for the first time to relationship
and friendships that I hope will last
a lifetime, to lessons learned
and obstacles overcome. We don’t know
where we’ll end up, but making moments matter. Taking a step back to see something
from a different vantage point and investing
in your core values can lead to a world
of surprises. What matters most
through this whole journey is, to quote Gilda Radner,
“Life is about not knowing, “having to change, “taking the moment
and making the best of it without knowing what’s going
to happen next.” The odds were stacked
well against me, A middle-class Jewish
Puerto Rican kid from a quasi-hippie family, a woman finding her way through
a dominantly male industry clutching a bachelor
of fine arts in a world of folks
with law degrees and MBAs, ultimately working in a business where failure is a key factor
in the formula for success. It is inconceivable that I should be standing here
before you. When I told my mother,
who never attended college but worked at the University
of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences
that I would be speaking today, we both started crying. On this momentous day, you are
starting your next chapter. I really believe it will be
a best seller, a big hit, and a critical success. Don’t be afraid
to edit your dreams and rewrite the story
of what you want to do in life. Cherish who you are. And may I leave you
with two final thoughts? Kindness does not mean weakness. And you can’t make mistakes
in your 20s. My sincerest congratulations
to each of you and the Class of 2016. It is such an honor
to be here with you today, and I wish you a beautiful life. Thank you so much. (cheering) >> We shall now present
the candidates for degrees. >> Mr. President. >> Provost Morrison. >> Mr. President, I have the honor
to call for the presentation of the candidates for degrees
as recommended by the faculty of Boston University’s schools
and colleges. To all the candidates
for degrees, as your school or college
and your degree are called, please rise and remain standing until all the schools
and colleges have been called. (cheering) >> Mr. President. >> Professor Dellheim. >> Mr. President,
it is an honor, a pleasure, and a privilege to present
the wonderful students of the Kilachand Honors College
Class of 2016. (cheering) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Moore. >> Mr. President, with great joy
I present to you the candidates for the master
of divinity degree, master of theological studies, master of sacred music,
and master of theology. Mr. President, with great joy, I also present to you
the candidates for our doctor
of ministry degree, doctor of theology degree,
and doctor of philosophy degree, all recommended enthusiastically
by the faculty of the Boston University
School of Theology. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Hutter. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to present the candidates
for the doctor of philosophy, doctor of science, and doctor of science
and dentistry degrees from the recommendation
of the faculty of the Henry M. Goldman
School of Dental Medicine. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the master of science and master of science
and dentistry degree as recommended by the faculty of the Henry M. Goldman
School of Dental Medicine. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the certificate
of advanced graduate study as recommended by the faculty of the Henry M. Goldman
School of Dental Medicine. And Mr. President,
I have the honor to present the candidates for the doctor
of dental medicine degree. Thank you very much, recommended by,
again, the faculty of the Henry M. Goldman
School of Dental Medicine. >> Thank you. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Steketee. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to recommend the candidates for the doctor
of philosophy degree in social work and sociology as recommended by the faculty
of the School of Social Work. Mr. President, I have the honor
to recommend the candidates for the degree
of masters of social work as recommended by the faculty
of the School of Social Work. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Galea. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to recommend candidates
for the doctor of philosophy and the doctor
of public health degree as recommended enthusiastically by the faculty of the School
of Public Health. I also have the honor
to recommend candidates for the master of science and master
of public health degree, also recommended
enthusiastically by the faculty of the School
of Public Health. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Antman. >> I have the honor
to present the candidates for the degree
of doctor of medicine, doctor of philosophy, masters of science
and masters of arts, recommended by the faculty
of the School of Medicine. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean O’Rourke. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to present the candidates for the degrees juris doctor
and master of laws as voted by the faculty
of the School of Law. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Upneja. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to present candidates for the bachelor
of science degree as recommended by the faculty of the school of Hospitality
and Administration. (cheering) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Zlateva. >> I have the honor
to present the candidates for the master of science,
master of criminal justice, master of liberal arts,
master of city planning, master of urban affairs,
and the graduate certificate recommended by the faculty
of Metropolitan College. (applause) Mr. President,
I also have the honor to present the candidates
for the bachelor of science, the bachelor of liberal arts, and the undergraduate
certificate recommended by the faculty
of Metropolitan College. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Coleman. (cheering) >> I have the honor
and privilege to present the candidates
for the doctor of education, the certificate of advanced
graduate studies in education, the master of arts in education,
the master of education, and the bachelor of science
of education as recommended by the BU
School of Education faculty. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Allen. (cheering) >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to present the candidates for the doctor
of musical arts degree recommended by the faculty
of the College of Fine Arts. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the master of arts,
the master of music, the master of fine arts,
the origin certificate, the performance diploma,
the graduate certificate, and the certificate of advanced
graduate study degrees recommended by the faculty
of the College of Fine Arts. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the bachelor of music and the bachelor
of fine arts degree recommended by the faculty
of the College of Fine Arts. (applause) >> President Brown.
>> Dean Najam. >> Mr. President,
I have the great honor and great privilege
to present to you the candidates
for the master of art degrees at the Frederick S. Pardee
School of Global Studies as recommended by the faculty of the Graduate School
of Arts and Sciences. Mr. President, I have
the great honor and privilege to present to you the candidates
for the bachelor of arts degrees in Latin American studies,
Asian studies, European studies, Middle Eastern
and north African studies, and in international relations at the Frederick S. Pardee
School of Global Studies as recommended by the faculty of the College of Arts
and Sciences. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Moore. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to present the candidates
for the doctor of philosophy, the doctor of physical therapy, and the doctor
of occupational therapy degrees, recommended by the faculty of the College of Health
and Rehabilitation Sciences, Sargent College. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the master of science and the master of science
in occupational therapy degrees recommended by the faculty of the College of Health
and Rehabilitation Sciences, Sargent College. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the bachelor
of science degree recommended by the faculty of the College of Health
and Rehabilitation Sciences, Sargent College. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Fiedler. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor and am delighted
to present the candidates for the degrees
of bachelor of science, master of science,
master of arts, and master of fine arts as recommended by the faculty
of the College of Communication. (applause) >> President Brown. >> Dean Lutchen. (cheering) >> President Brown,
I have the honor to present the candidates for the degree
of doctor of philosophy as recommended by the faculty
of the College of Engineering. And President Brown,
I have the honor to present the candidates
for the degrees of masters of engineering
and masters of science as recommended by the faculty
of the College of Engineering. And Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the degree
of bachelor of science as recommended by the faculty
of the College of Engineering. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Freeman. >> Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the doctor of philosophy,
master of science, master of business
administration, and bachelor of science
and business administration recommended by the faculty of the Questrom School
of Business. (applause) >> Mr. President. >> Dean Cudd. >> Mr. President,
I have the honor to present the candidates for the doctor
of philosophy degree recommended by the faculty of the Graduate School
of Arts and Sciences. Mr. President, I have the honor
to present the candidates for the master of arts,
master of science, and master of fine arts degrees, recommended by the Graduate
School of Arts and Science. And finally,
last but not least, Mr. President, I have the honor
and great privilege to present the candidates
for the bachelor of arts recommended by the faculty of the College of Arts
and Sciences. (applause) >> Upon the recommendation
of the faculty, and by the authority of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts given to the trustees
of Boston University and entrusted by them to me,
I hereby confer upon you the degrees that
you have earned, together with all appropriate
honors, privileges, and responsibilities, in token of which
you are granted diplomas. My congratulations to you all. (cheers and applause) Before you are seated, I would like you
to salute your parents. Your accomplishments are built
on the support of your family. Please turn to face them and acknowledge once again
their role. (applause) Please be seated. The commencement ceremony celebrates the achievements
of each of our students, but it means much more. It celebrates
the accomplishments of a great academic community, a community where you have
studied and worked together in classrooms, laboratories,
and studios. It celebrates
not only your accomplishments, but also the efforts
of the faculty and staff whose dedication has helped
lead you to this marvelous day. On your shoulders rests
the enormous responsibility for guiding America
and the world, and for addressing the
substantial challenges we face. You are the future
for this university, for this country,
and for humanity. Among the graduates today
are those who are commissioning into the armed services
of the United States. (applause) You have chosen
to dedicate yourselves to the protection
of this country. This university is proud of you and gives you
its sincerest thanks. Wherever your tours of duty
may take you, godspeed. To the class… (applause) To the Class of 2016,
as you leave Nickerson Field, you join a long line
of Boston University graduates stretching over time to include
some 312,000 living alumni of this great institution. Your accomplishments will be part of the fabric
of our legacy. Your Boston University education
has prepared you. Go into the world
and make it a better place for all of us
and for all future generations. And again, congratulations,
and good luck. (applause) This is the eighth commencement over which Chairman Knox
has presided. In September, he will leave
his service on our board after 19 years,
and eight years as chairman. Because of our term limits,
Bob is stepping off the board and handing the chairman’s gavel
to Kenneth Feld. Chairman Knox has been
a wise, diligent, and famously affable chairman. His tenure coincides
with a period in which Boston University
has made immense strides in quality and stature. It is not a coincidence. I cherish the privilege today
at this podium of expressing our community’s
profound gratitude to Bob for his devoted
and outstanding service to this great institution. Will you please offer
a round of applause to our chairman, Bob Knox. (applause) >> Thank you, Bob. Will all faculty members,
graduates, and their guests rise as Ms. Denise Ward leads us
in the singing of “Clarissima.” Words and music may be found
on page 105 of your program. Following “Clarissima,” please remain standing
for the benediction. (band playing) ♪ Boston University,
proud with mission sure ♪ ♪ Keeping the light of knowledge
high, long to endure ♪ ♪ Treasuring the best
of all that’s old ♪ ♪ Searching out the new ♪ ♪ Our alma mater evermore,
hail BU. ♪ (applause) >> The Reverend
Dr. Robert Allan Hill, Dean of Marsh Chapel, will
now deliver the benediction. Following the benediction,
the 143rd commencement of Boston University
will conclude. We ask that all graduates
and guests remain at their places
until the platform party, the faculty, and the alumni
council have left the stage. Bob. >> Let us pray. Gracious god of light and love, thou in whose light
we see light, illumine our paths as we depart this place
into the unforeseeable future. Thou true light enlightening
every woman and man, be thou a lamp unto our feet
and a light unto our path. Thou light that shines
in the darkness, brighten our difficult days,
we pray. Warm our joyful days, we pray. Keep a flame of conscience burning in our hearts
all our days, we pray. Keep a flame of hope alive
in our culture in these days, we pray. Keep a kindled fire of love burning in the lives of these
graduates of 2016, we pray. That we may do
all the good we can at all the times we can,
in all the places we can, with all the people we can,
as long as ever we can. Amen. (applause) (band playing)


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