2008 Commencement Remarks

Welcome to NJIT’s 2008 commencement, our first at this very impressive new venue in the heart of Newark. In fact, we are the first institution to hold a commencement at “The Rock,” which is very appropriate given that we are Newark’s hometown university and have had an association with our host city dating back to 1881.

I’d like to recognize the President of the Municipal council of the City of Newark, Mildred Crump, who is with us today.

There can be no doubt that this is a great day for those who will receive their degrees, and I want to congratulate each of you on your impressive educational achievements. No one can dispute that this is also an occasion to acknowledge the most important support that one receives in life. Please join me in a round of applause for the family members and friends who have helped you reach this milestone in 2008, and whose continued encouragement will surely inspire your many more outstanding accomplishments.

The great American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “what lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” After today’s ceremony, the Class of 2008 will embark on many different paths into the future.  What you have gained at NJIT — what now lies within each member of this class — is an essential key to both personal success and the contributions that you will make to the benefit of all in the global community.

Some of you will aspire to excellence in architecture and design in the footsteps of Thom Mayne, our keynote speaker who will also be awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters this morning. Others will share in the work of repairing and improving our nation’s infrastructure; some in expanding the frontiers of  science and engineering. Your breadth of real-world skills and knowledge will be basic to future technological and social advances.

Yet as varied as your skills and knowledge may be, NJIT has given you a shared respect for the diversity of the world’s peoples and for the value of differing cultures. It is this respect that will enable you to put your expertise to the best possible use no matter what career path you follow, or where you choose to live.

Lastly, NJIT has prepared you to lead in meeting the challenges of improving life for the people of every nation.  For well over a century, NJIT has inspired every graduate to envision a better future, to continue learning throughout life, and to apply what you learn in achieving personal growth and fostering positive social change. This spirit of leadership, which you take forward from a great university, will encourage the same aspirations in many others whom you will meet in the years ahead. 

In the words of that great American philosopher, Baseball Hall of Famer, and member of the inaugural class of the New Jersey Hall of Fame, Yogi Berra, “The future ain’t what it used to be!”  But, the good news is, you are prepared for it.

Congratulations to the NJIT Class of 2008!

Robert A. Altenkirch, President