You are here

WGU Commencement Address from U.S. Congressman Jim Matheson

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
WGU Commencement Address from U.S. Congressman Jim Matheson
Western Governors University
<p>U.S. Representative Jim Matheson (D-Utah) will delivered the commencement speech at the summer graduation ceremony for Western Governors University (WGU) on Saturday, July 19th, 2008 in Salt Lake City. Degrees will be awarded to 642 graduates from 48 states. WGU is awarding 401 undergraduate degrees and 241 graduate degrees.</p> <p>A four-term Congressman representing Utah's second Congressional district, Matheson currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has the broadest jurisdiction of any Congressional committee. He has also been a strong supporter of education. Before his election to Congress, Representative Matheson worked in the energy industry for 13 years for several local companies and in his own firm.</p> <p>Transcription of video:</p> <p>Jim Matheson: Well, thank you. Thank you for that introduction. It is really a pleasure to be with you today. I look out at this audience and I see the culmination of hard work and determination, from not only the graduates, but also from the teachers, counselors, administrators, and of course, the families.</p> <p>By enrolling in the education programs offered to you my Western Governors University you've made a life-altering and life-enriching decision, that education matters. Your presence here today signifies that you have taken to heart what many others before you have embraced, recognizing an opportunity to better your lives and the lives of those you love by pursuing education. The poet William Butler Yeats said, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." That flame is a beacon of hope guiding you toward fulfillment of your hopes and dreams.</p> <p>Now, since you, at Western Governors University in particular, have embraced technology to reach the goal we celebrate today, there's no more appropriate audience for me to share some following remarkable and instructive facts about what is going on and the rate of change in our world today. These are facts that were compiled by an education professor at the University of Minnesota named Scott McCloud and publicized by a Colorado technology teacher and blogger named Carl Fish.</p> <p>Both are strong believers in public schools, but they believe we need a new paradigm in this country on how education uses technology to empower individuals in ways that were unimaginable just ten years ago. Professor McCloud has a website where he posted his original ideas in a PowerPoint presentation entitled, Did You Know? Of course now it's been updated and posted as a YouTube video. [Laughter]</p> <p>Here's a sampling from it. Did you know in the next eight seconds 34 babies will be born? Five in India, four in China, and one in the United States. What will the world be like for them when they graduate from college? In 2006 there were 1.3 million college graduates in the United States, there were 3.1 million college graduates in India, and 3.3 million in China. What percentage of college graduates in India speak English? 100 percent. Did you know in ten years it's predicted that the number one English speaking country in the world will be China?</p> <p>According to our own Department of Labor one in four workers in this country has been with their current employer less than one year. And one in two has been with his or her current employer less than five years. In fact, the Labor Department estimates today's learners -- and I know we have a bit of an older average age for college graduates today -- but they say today's learners coming straight out of high school, that they will have had 10 to 14 jobs by their 38th birthday. Did you know many of today's college majors didn't even exist ten years ago? New media, organic culture, E business, nano technology, homeland security. What will today's students be studying ten years from now?</p> <p>Today's 21 year olds have watched 20,000 hours of television, played 10,000 hours of video games, talked 10,000 hours on the phone, and sent and received 250,000 emails or instant messages. More than half of the 21 year olds in America have created content on the web. More than 70 percent of United States four year olds have used a computer. In 1984 the number of internet devices was 1,000, the number in 1992 was 1,000,000, the number in 2006 was 600,000,000.</p> <p>Did you know we're living in exponential times? The first commercial test message was sent in December 1992. Now the number of text messages received daily exceeds the population of the planet. The internet started being widely used by the general public in 1995, just over 13 years ago. Did you know that one out of every eight couples married in the United States in 2005 met online? Revenue for Ebay in 2006 was six billion dollars. It was just founded 12 years ago. In 2007 there were more than 2.7 billion searches performed on Google in one month. Now, how did we answer these questions before Google? I'm not sure people know anymore. [Laughter]</p> <p>Visitors to the social networking site MySpace totaled 10,000,000 in 2004, 30,000,000 in 2005, more than 60,000,000 in 2006. More than 230,000 new users signed up for a MySpace page every day last year. If MySpace were a country it would be the eighth largest in the world. [Laughter]</p> <p>Did you know that the amount of technical information is doubling every two years? By the year 2010 it's predicted to double every three days. Third generation fiber optics have recently been tested that push ten trillion bits per second down a fiber. That's 1,900 CDs or 150,000,000 simultaneous phone calls each second. That speed is currently tripling every six months. The fiber's already there, it's really just improvement on the switches at the end. Which means the marginal cost to make these huge improvements is practically nothing.</p> <p>And yet, with all this change nearly two billion children live in developing countries, one in three never completes the fifth grade. In 2005 the one laptop per child project set out to provide laptops to these kids. The first shipment started last year. Kids who had never held a textbook will now hold the world and they'll be connected to you. Predictions are that by the time children born in 2007 are six years old a super computer's computation abilities will exceed that of the human brain. And while predictions further out than 15 years are hard to do, by the year 2049 it's estimated a $1,000 computer will exceed the computing capabilities of the entire human race.</p> <p>So what does this all mean? One could say we are currently preparing students for jobs and technologies that don't yet exist in order to solve problems we don't even know yet are problems. Albert Einstein said, "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Did you know there are students in China, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, and the United States who remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, create, communicate, and collaborate on projects together every day?</p> <p>And now that I've talked to you about all these things, I guess I'd ask this, ask your kids, are they doing this in their school? Ask your principal, how are you helping my child become literate and prepared for this 21st Century? Ask your school board, are you providing the resources and training necessary to prepare students to be successful in this rapidly changing environment? Ask your elected officials, now that you know all this, what changes are you making in public policy so that our country has an opportunity to thrive and succeed in this changing environment? Change is inevitable and the rate of change is becoming faster all the time and we should embrace that.</p> <p>So what is your vision? My vision is that you never stop learning. It's a lifetime exercise. You also never lose your appreciation for the marvel that is the human brain and this great and free country will remain the engine of innovation and excellence that drives us to the highest levels of human achievement. I want to congratulate all of you on a job well done. And I wish you continued learning for the rest of your life. Thank you. [Applause]</p>
Western Governors University
© 2017 Western Governors University – WGU. All Rights Reserved.
Original Format: 
Commencement Video
Digital Format: 
MP4 (Moving Picture Experts Group)