Commencement Remarks

May 26, 2005

Welcome to NJIT’s 2005 commencement ceremony, and to our first commencement at Continental Airlines Arena. For sports fans, this is a venue that has seen many exciting and memorable moments. But no sporting event is as significant as what we have come here today to celebrate.

I would like to congratulate everyone receiving a degree today, an accomplishment requiring intellect and a commitment of time and energy that few activities in life demand.

This is also an occasion to celebrate the support of family and friends who have helped to make your achievements possible. Please join me in a round of applause to express deep appreciation for those who have been so generous and selfless in their support, some of whom are here at today’s ceremony.

The poet W.H. Auden said that a college professor is a person who talks in someone else’s sleep, namely yours. I don’t think we have any of those professors at NJIT, but perhaps you are a better judge than I. Seriously, we do have a dedicated faculty, complemented in equal measure by the staff members who serve our students in many capacities. Please join me in recognizing NJIT’s faculty and staff for their contributions to your success along the path to this day, and to the great things you will surely accomplish in the future.

The diploma that you will shortly receive certifies that you have acquired a great deal of specialized knowledge. However, the true significance of this milestone is not that you possess a wealth of knowledge for its own sake. Rather, it signifies that you should now be far more ready than you were a few years ago to help change the world. In the words of Lee Iacocca, the articulate Ford and Chrysler executive, “Get all the education you can, but then, by God, do something. Don't just stand there, make it happen!”

In making something happen you will be joining the generations of NJIT alumni who have distinguished themselves through pioneering work in many fields, who have contributed to economic progress in the private sector, and who have accepted the challenges and responsibilities of public office.

Your experiences at NJIT have prepared you for a lifelong openness to innovation, a sensitivity to cultures from around the world, and a commitment to translating good ideas into reality. None of us can predict exactly what those ideas might be, but they will come, and when they do, “make it happen.”

Today’s celebration of your success is one in which you can take pride. There will be others as well. I wish you luck on the journey to your accomplishments ahead. In the words of Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States and “man of the people,”  “I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” With your education and hard work, you will make it happen! Good luck!

Thank you, and congratulations to the NJIT Class of 2005!

Robert A. Altenkirch, President