On October 19, 2002 the Honorable Robert F. Bennett delivered the WGU Commencement Address. James R. Swartz and Senator Robert F. Bennett were awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Note: this is not a complete video of the commencement address.
On July 17, 2004 the President of the American Association for Higher Education, Dr. Clara Lovett delivered the WGU Commencement Address. This commencement was held at the Governor's Mansion in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On January 28, 2006 former Colorado Governor Roy Romer delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Romer was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters by WGU President Robert Mendenhall and Chairman of the WGU Board of Trustees and Governor of Wyoming Jim Geringer. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address. This WGU Commencement was held at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On February 10, 2007 Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy and Education and Global Director of the HP Company Foundation, Dr. Bess Stephens delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Dr. Stephens was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters by WGU President Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall. This commencement was held at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.
Transcription of video:
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: It’s my pleasure now to introduce to you our commencement speaker who embodies all of these things which I have mentioned. Dr. Bess Stephens has been a lifelong learner and continues to learn and to expand her knowledge. She has been an effective user and proponent of technology and education.
Bess Stephens was born the oldest of seven children in Mobile, Alabama, at a time where it was difficult for blacks in this country to gain a college education. She was expected to be the example in her family and in fact was the first in her family to go to college and to earn a college degree. And I know some of our graduates are also the first in their families.
She had to work her way through her first degree and then continued to pursue her advanced degrees while working fulltime, something most of our graduates can relate to. And because of that effort to gain an education she has dedicated her life’s career to expanding access and providing opportunity for others to go to college, to gain an education, to have access to education and technology and to advance the quality of their lives.
As we mentioned earlier, Dr. Stephens is the Vice President of Corporate Philanthropy and Education and Global Director of the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation. She directs more than $45 million worth of giving made by Hewlett-Packard and the Hewlett-Packard Company Foundation to improve the lives of people and communities around the world. In recent years she has championed the strategic approach that aligns HP’s philanthropic investments with the expertise and resources of partner organizations to address substantive needs through long-term and sustainable efforts.
Dr. Stephens has served on a variety of national and international boards including the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, the Board of Gifts In Kind International. She is currently serving and has for many years as a trustee of Western Governors University and also serves on the board of Regents of Santa Clara University, The Contributions Council of the Conference Board, The Junior Achievement International Board, The Center for Excellence in Non-Profits Board, and The National Executive Service Corps Board.
In addition to her life and career accomplishments, Bess Stephens has been a great supporter and benefactor of Western Governors University through the Hewlett-Packard Company and Foundation. The backbone of this university is HP servers and HP laptops and we are indebted to Bess Stephens and to her company for their generous support of our efforts to expand access and opportunity to technology and education to our students. It is with great pleasure that we award at this time to Dr. Bess Stephens an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree at Western Governors University. [Applause]
Dr. Bess Stephens: Good morning. Thank you, Bob, for that wonderful introduction and certainly for the acknowledgement through the Honorary Doctorate Degree. It’s a pleasure for me to join you as your commencement speaker today, and I want to thank President Mendenhall and the board of trustees for inviting me here to speak on this important occasion.
To the graduates, let me begin by saying congratulations. Well deserved congratulations to you and to your families. You took it upon yourselves to pursue higher education and self-improvement and you followed through on your goal of earning an academic career, a new academic degree. For many of you this achievement has come at a later stage in your life than is true for most college graduates. I understand that the median age of the class is 37. Many of you held fulltime jobs while working toward the degree and many of you have families and other responsibilities that have placed heavy demands on your time and energy.
One thing you all share, though, is motivation, the desire to improve your lives, to advance your careers, and to contribute to your communities motivated you to stay up late at night studying, to get online between meetings and after soccer games. Your incredible appetite for learning is what has driven you to succeed. Today’s ceremony marks the end of many, many hours of hard work and feats of juggling prowess, but it also marks the beginning of a new era, one in which you will enter equipped with increased knowledge and skill that will help you to succeed.
At the same time, today’s ceremony is just one marker along the path of learning. For that reason, I have chosen lifelong learning, the driver of success, as the theme of my remarks today. In the brief moments that I have I want to do three things. One, describe to you further the complex landscape that technology continues to build. I also want to talk to you about what will be required for you to continue on your path of success. And drawing from my own career experiences, I want to offer you a few key things that have worked for me.
I applaud each of you not only for earning your degree but also for making the choice and having the courage and the persistence to attend an innovative institution. You exemplify the vision of WGU, the very vision that we had when we started the university. We, the members of the board of trustees, your mentors, your faculty members and the administrators at WGU are very proud of you and all of your accomplishments. Let’s give you a round of applause. [Applause]
My commendations also go to the WGU administration and to its faculty for its excellent leadership and the guidance that they provided to you, the class of winter 2007. Let’s applaud them. [Applause]
Because of the choice you made you have created communities that extend far beyond the classroom. You are models of the 21st Century workforce, doing what you need to do at any time, at any place, anywhere, using the information and communications technologies that make it possible. As online students, you have learned to adapt to change, to make contributions to the rapidly evolving world. Your well-honed skills and your flexibility will remain critical to your future success. The global reach of business today requires us to exchange information, to exchange ideas across borders and time zones, making us ever more reliant upon technology. It requires us to meet needs of regional cultures, business growth and market demands.
The rapid development of technology has created a very complex business landscape. And yet, it is that same technology that also helps us to navigate it. Because of technology we are able to keep learning and stretching, stretching our own boundaries toward greater success at work and in our personal lives.
I personally can’t imagine a life without consistently learning more. I can truly say that to the extent that I have had any success it has been the result of hard work, continuous learning, and persistence in adopting and using productivity tools that are available to me.
I started my career as a research scientist at the Vanderbilt University in the Department of Molecular Biology. And I worked for five additional employers in several fields before becoming a businesswoman in the computer industry. At HP I’ve managed a team of employees since my second year in the company. I’ve led several functions in a variety of leadership roles. And I can tell you, each year has placed new demands on me to learn more about our products, our solutions and their applications.
I’ve also had to continuously focus upon personal growth and developing my own skills while serving as a leader and role model for others. These are the very things that I would expect that many of you – in fact, all of you – will no doubt find over the course of your own career.
This has kept me challenged, motivated and continuously striving to stay on the cutting edge, something that I’m recommending to you as well. In the IT industry and increasingly so in other industries, too, the only constant is change. I feel a special bond with this class of the winter of 2007 because as many of you learned in our conversations last night, I’m personally passionate about increasing access to information technology and the rich set of resources that comes along with it.
The digital divide is a serious reality in both developed nations as well as developing parts of the world, and that is why at Hewlett-Packard we are committed to bringing the benefits of technology into the schools, into the universities, and indeed into communities around the world, giving you people, giving working adults, giving aspiring professionals the opportunity to take advantage of these vital resources that they need to continue to learn to work and yes, to thrive in today’s society.
In short, technology is nothing less than a tool for unleashing human potential and creativity, supporting entrepreneurship, facilitating economic growth, and building community. The cofounder and editor-at-large of Wired magazine, Kevin Kelly, believes, and I concur, that technology opens up possibilities within human beings, helping to expand our potential to create and to do good.
In earning your degrees today you have become excellent examples of this potential. So how do you ensure that you will stay on this path of success in the future? One way is to challenge yourself by pushing your creative limits. Early in my career at HP I had the opportunity to learn the value of innovation and creativity in driving success. It was in the mid '80s and I had the opportunity to create a leading training program for 200 new engineers. What I chose to do was to take the product lifecycle and to use every phase of that product lifecycle to show these young engineers and to help them understand how they could contribute to total customer satisfaction. This approach had never been taken before, and as a result I was awarded this Quality Award with a plaque that went up on the wall in the division and that stayed there for probably 15 years, thereby helping to set my reputation.
I call that to your attention simply to say it drove home the importance of creativity. It drove home the importance of achieving quality in everything you do. Using each stage of your career I would encourage you to take this approach. Quality in all you do. Innovation and creativity as appropriate. Every day of our lives there are opportunities to learn new things. And even the smallest piece of knowledge or unexpected experience can provide us with important information down the road.
I can also recall another opportunity, and I would encourage you to expand your world view. I chose to go to China to participate as a delegate in the Fourth World Conference on Women. I had never traveled in that part of the world. It opened my eyes to problems that I had not envisioned. It gave me a perspective on those problems, particularly through the eyes of women.
Today, I lead a team. I drive the strategy for a company 150,000 strong committed to helping to solve some of those very same problems. So I challenge you as you go forward to hold on to the practice you’ve already started, the practice of absorbing knowledge. Your future success at work and in your personal lives depends upon your continuous learning, growth, professional and personal development.
I call to your attention the example of John O’Neil’s book The Paradox of Success he emphasizes what he calls renewal imperative, the renewal imperative. It points out that as soon as you get to a place of mastery on any subject, that is indeed the time when it’s crucial for you to renew yourself and begin to search for new knowledge.
Of course you can decide to continue your coursework, academic, creative or otherwise. You may be motivated to go on and obtain another degree, as I did, but there are also many other ways to gather knowledge and ultimately create your own success.
As I drive toward my closing remarks I would like to offer to you five things that have worked well for me. One, strive for excellence in all that you do. And don’t be afraid to try new approaches. Collaborate with others is number two. This is a surefire way to learn new things and typically, collaboration generates more creative ideas.
Deliver more than you cost is number three. Increase your value to your team by finding solutions to intractable problems. Number four, contribute beyond your office or your place of employment. Engage in your community. Mentor someone else. As you climb the corporate, ladder, if that’s where you are, try doing a little lifting by becoming a role model for others. And then finally, remain open and curious about new learnings.
And now, as I conclude, I’d like you to indulge me for a moment. Imagine it’s August 1981, one month after I joined the Hewlett-Packard Company. While much of the planet was captivated by Pac-Man fever, the royal wedding between Prince Charles and the late Lady Diana, and the success of Columbia, the world’s first space shuttle, we at Hewlett-Packard were on the verge of releasing what would become one of our most successful and enduring engineering marvels. It was the product, the HP 12C financial calculator. It’s recognized worldwide as the preeminent calculator across both the academic and the business worlds. Few products have had the longevity and the [inaudible] loyalty that the 12C has enjoyed.
So I thought, in preparing to come to speak to you, what better way to commemorate the class of winter 2007, what better way than to send every graduate of this fine collection from WGU off in style than with a tool that was created 25 years ago but continues to support growth and innovation? So I am partnering with WGU and HP will work with WGU to send each graduate – yes, all 495 people – their own personal 12C calculator. [Applause]
This is in recognition of your day and your accomplishment as we celebrate the silver anniversary of that product. On your commencement day I ask you to continue with the boldness that brought you to WGU in the first place, continue to grow and develop, share your experiences at WGU with others. Remember, as a university we can be no better than the proof points that you and other graduates put out there. You are our legacy. And we encourage you to embrace lifelong learning and online training. And I would conclude with a quote from the 20th Century writer Mortimer Adler. And he said, “The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.” Congratulations to the class of winter 2007.
On July 14, 2007 United States Senator from Wyoming, Michael B. Enzi delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Enzi was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa by WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall. This commencement took place at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.
Transcription of video:
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: On behalf of the Western Governors University Member Governors and Board of Trustees, we welcome you to this commencement ceremony. We extend a warm welcome particularly to our graduates who have traveled from many states to be with us for this ceremony. And a welcome also to many more graduates who are joining us via live internet streaming for this commencement exercise.
I'm President Bob Mendenhall of the university. We extend a warm welcome to Senator Michael B. Enzi and his wife Diana who have joined us for this and we'll hear from Senator Enzi shortly. We welcome friends and family of our graduates and recognize on the stand the faculty of the university that have been so instrumental in the success of all of these graduates. We appreciate their great efforts.
We also want to recognize seated on the stand a number of corporate supporters and scholarship donors to the university who have provided scholarships for some of our graduates.
And joining us is Curtis Bennett, the Vice President of Retail Operations for O.C. Tanner; Joanie Clark from Morgan Stanley Bank; Cathy Schaeffer, the Community Relations Diversity Coordinator for Zion's Bank; Tony Mejia, Partner in Kirton and McConkie, and Elliott Anderson, the managing partner of Sixth Water, LLC. We're grateful for the corporate support that we receive as a university all of which goes for scholarships to students.
In particular, I wish to congratulate these graduates on their accomplishment. As you know better than anyone, this is not an easy degree precisely because you're required to demonstrate your competencies. There are great advantages to working at a distance, not the least of which is doing homework in jammies. [Laughter] But there are significant challenges too, being self-motivated and disciplined, balancing work and family responsibilities while also attending to studies.
I want to recognize each of you for the distance you have come to this graduation. Not only, the physical distance to be here today, but more importantly, the intellectual, emotional, and spiritual distance each of you have traveled over the past years to gain this degree. We're confident that your WGU education will serve you well and that you in turn will be exemplary graduates of this institution and reflect well on this university through a lifetime of professional accomplishment.
We are acutely aware that the reputation of this university depends mostly on the accomplishments of our graduates. And so we look forward to following your accomplishments. Each of you know that as you've been part of a community of learners during your attendance at WGU, we also have a community of alumni that we would invite you to not only join, but participate in. We see that as evolving into an online professional community sharing best practices across the country among WGU graduates. And we provide a year of free mentoring to all graduates after graduation as you transition into using your degree in the workplace.
At this graduation we have 420 graduates from 45 different states and 2 countries. Attending in person are 88 of these graduates from 29 different states. And we appreciate the efforts you have made with your families to come and be with us. And appreciate also the 300 and some graduates and their families who join us via internet streaming to participate in these ceremonies.
I mentioned earlier and we are especially pleased to have with us today as our commencement speaker, the Honorable Michael B. Enzi, Senator from Wyoming and Former Chairman and a ranking minority member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee. An accountant by profession, Senator Enzi has served with distinction for over ten years in the United States Senate.
Over the past few years, Senator Enzi led the Senate in its efforts to help ensure that everyone regardless of age, can receive a quality education. Senator, today the average age of these graduates is 38 and they range in age from 23 to 63. He has also worked to provide Americans access to affordable quality healthcare while protecting workers and providing them training to get the best jobs.
Senator Enzi helped author the Workforce Reinvestment Act which creates a streamline job training and employment system vital to employers and workers. He formed the Rural Education Caucus and strives to ensure the unique challenges small population schools face are not overlooked in federal education legislation. Most importantly, for all of us gathered today and especially for you graduates, Senator Enzi has been a key force in the Congress in promoting educational opportunity and innovation. He was and is an early advocate of distance education and was instrumental in the creation of the Distance Learning Demonstration Program in 1999, including the inclusion of a brand new Western Governors University as part of that demonstration project.
We especially want to recognize Senator Enzi today for his pivotal role in the development and success of this university including making it possible for our students to access federal financial aid, providing the flexibility in federal regulations to make true innovation possible, and providing key funding for the development and delivery of K12 teacher education programs. Last year, Senator Enzi was largely responsible for the U.S. Congress writing competency-based education into law, providing specifically for programs that, "Utilize direct assessment of learning in lieu of credit hours or clock hours." I consider it a great honor at this time on behalf of our 19 member governors and the WGU Board of Trustees to award Senator Michael B. Enzi an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Western Governors University. [Applause]
Senator Michael Enzi: Thank you very much. Mr. President, fellow graduates, graduates online, faculty, friends, guests, fellow celebrators, what a day. Congratulations. You have achieved what few have done and you've done it differently.
You're the leaders in the next wave of education. Some of you will be teaching, some of you will be continuing your education the same way. Some of you will be helping others to understand how they have this opportunity to achieve the same way you had no matter where they are in the world. And we do have a lot of people around the world that could get on and feel like they're right here. That includes a lot of members of the Armed Services. It makes a huge difference to those that are overseas.
I've got some good news for you and I've got some bad news for you. The good news, of course, is that you just graduated or will in a few moments. The bad news is tomorrow you're freshman again. And I wish you many times of being freshman. That's, that grand beginning, that grand opportunity, the grand excitement of something new and it should happen regularly in your life. They call this a commencement. Commencement means beginning, not ending. So you really need to have some great beginnings out there, time and time and time again. It'll be notice to yourself that you're progressing.
So I'm going to talk to you a little bit about three important parts of life. One of them is where you're going, one is how to get there, and the final one is what to do on the way. Now, I'm going to suggest a book to you. I know you've been reading books. [Laughter] And you're thinking oh no, not another one, but my wife and I ran across a book called, The Aladdin Factor, a number of years ago. It's by the same people that wrote all those, Chicken Soup for the Soul books, but it's different than those. It's about how to ask for things.
As you know, if you don't ask the answer is always no but they have this little part in there that our family has adopted and actually enlarged on, and you can do that same thing. It's about innovation. That's what you learned in college. It's called, The List of 100 Things to Do. And right now, you're saying I got a lot of things I want to do. I'm willing to bet you that if you sat down right now and started making that list, you have 25. The requirement for this list is 100. Now, if you -- if you get in a quiet place and you start writing these down, you'll get to your 25. That takes 5, 20 minutes -- somewhere around there. The next 25 will take you quite a bit longer. The third 25 will take you a considerable amount of time, but nothing like the fourth 25.
The fourth 25 will be things that you've said, "Yeah, I'd like to do that," but there is no way in the world that I'm ever going to get to do that. You know, this is places to go, people to visit, career goals, family goals, anything you can think of. One hundred of them. The reason for 100 is to stretch your imagination because what you can imagine and believe me, and you can achieve. Now, and the last five things it'll probably take you a month to get them and those will be things that you know you will never get to do, but if you do this list, it will heighten your reception of opportunities.
And of those last five things, the first month after you do the list, you will complete one of those. It works. Now, when you complete one, you need to move it to a done list and the purpose of a done list is when you're having a bad day, you go back and you read the done list. And you say, "Life's been pretty good to me," but an important part of this list of 100 is you have to replace that item.
It always has to be 100. You always have to keep stretching your imagination on what the possibilities are for you out there. Oh, and another little part of this rule, one of my goals is to fish in all 50 states. I want you to know I was making more progress on that before I became Senator [Laughter]. But you also notice that I said that was one of the things. You can't cheat by listing something that's a group thing as each of the parts of it. That cannot be 50 things.
Now, there's a -- another part to this that I'm still testing and it's the reason you got to keep it at a 100, you're not allowed to die until you wipe out the list. [Laughter] Oh, I used to think that was funnier, but I have now watched some older people who at some point in their life just start erasing the list of things to do and they do die. So keep it at 100 and keep replacing them and keep living life. So let me talk to you about to how to get there. This is something I've discovered over a number of years, and I noticed this age the 23 to 63, I'm the 63. But I've developed an 80/20 rule and this works in your personal life or it works when you're negotiating, or it works in your business. And I'll relate it to working in Congress, because we handle a lot of different issues and surprisingly we agree on 80 percent of all of the issues. Now, of the 80 percent we agree on, we agree on 80 percent of each of them.
Now, if you watch television and you watch us debate, what you're getting to watch is the 20 percent that we don't agree on, won't agree on, can't agree on, and it looks pretty messy. We've already milked the system, gathered the cream, and what you're seeing on television is us mucking out the stables, but if we concentrate on that 80 percent, we get a lot done. The average committee in Congress finishes three bills every two years.
Senator Kennedy is now the Chairman of the Committee. He used to be the ranking member. We switched roles this last year. During the two years that I was Chairman, we got 27 bills signed into law by Congress, signed into law by the President. And people have said, "How do you get that done?" Well, it's the two of us agreed on the 80 percent rule. He's considered the most liberal in Congress and I'm considered the most conservative. So some people join us when the two of us can agree thinking that it must be okay. [Laughter] But we have found that when there is disagreement, if we can keep it from being polarized, there's usually a third way of doing something.
Now, I use the Congressional example, but this works in your personal lives too. If you concentrate on the 80 percent that you can get along with others on, you can get those things done. If you concentrate on the 20 percent, you're going to have to look at your done list a whole lot of times. So and what you do on the way or one of the things you need to do today and you are doing is to celebrate. You have got to learn to celebrate. As we get older, we kind of fall down on this. Celebrations become a little more stayed. They should not be. Now, usually I'm talking to a much younger group than this and I have to warn them about celebrating. [Laughter] In your case what I need to do is to ask you to stay kids. Kids know how to celebrate and there are a lot of events out there that need to be celebrated. Not just the ones at work.
Now, work ones are important and Lou Holtz is one of my hero's and he talks about winning and he taught football players how to win, but he would explain that win means what's important now. When you're on the football field, that's the most important thing. When you're at home, that better be the most important thing. What's important now? My dad would say that, "I don't care son, if you're a ditch digger, but if you are a ditch digger, I want any darn fool in the world to look at your ditch and say, 'That's a Mike Enzi ditch.'" So be willing to put your signature on things and then celebrate that you did it that well. Don't try for perfection, just try for the 80 percent, that'll get you a long way.
But I also want to encourage you to give back. A lot of times in Congress, we talk about people that are rich and what ought to happen. I don't care how rich anybody is. I don't care how much money people have. I do care a little bit what they do with their money. That's the important part. I remember coming out of a building with my son who had just turned 21, and there was a beautiful car parked out there and he knew all about it. I didn't know much about it, but I asked him how much that car was worth and he said, "Half a million dollars."
And I said, "Well, I hope someday you have and now a job that will let you earn enough that you could buy one of those cars and then that you have the good enough sense not to buy one." [Laughter] Because there are a lot of other things that could be done with the talents that you've gotten and the capabilities that you've gotten through the degree that you're getting today and through the degree that you'll get in the future because life's about lifetime learning. That's what that list of 100 is about. Learning in different ways at different times.
So where you go is up to you. How you get there is up to you and what you do on the way is up to you, but you have shown the determination, the desire, the excitement and had the encouragement to reach this goal. I salute you. You have laid the groundwork for a great life and you are to be congratulated. Congratulations.
On February 16, 2008 the President Emerita of Northern Arizona University, Dr. Clara M. Lovett and the Vice President Regulatory,of AT&T Texas, Thomas C. Pelto delivered the WGU Commencement Addresses. Dr. Lovett and Pelto were also each awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall conferred the honorary doctoral degrees. This commencement was held at the Calvin L. Rampton Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.
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.
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.
Transcription of video:
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.
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.
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.
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]
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?
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?
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.
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]
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]
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.
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.
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?
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.
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]
On January 24, 2009 the Chairman and Co-Founder of Sun Microsystems, Inc. and the Chairman of Sun Federal, Inc. Scott McNealy delivered the WGU Commencement Address. McNealy was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall introduces Utah Governor Michael O. Leavitt, who in turn introduces McNealy. Mendenhall confers the honorary doctoral degree. This commencement was held at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.
On July 11, 2009, President Emeritus of Washington State University, Dr. Samuel H. Smith delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Dr. Smith was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. WGU President Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall conferred the honorary doctoral degree. This commencement was held at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On February 20, 2010, at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah, Ms. Hilary Pennington, Director of Education, Postsecondary Success and Special Initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, delivered the commencement address.
On July 17, 2010 the Under Secretary of the United States Department of Education, Dr. Martha J. Kanter delivered the WGU Commencement Address. This commencement was held at Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On February 12, 2011 the President and Chief Executive Officer of Zions First National Bank, A. Scott Anderson delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Anderson was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa. WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall confers the honorary doctoral degree. This commencement was held at Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.
Transcription of video:
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: I'd like now to introduce Lieutenant Governor of the State of Utah, Greg Bell, who will introduce our commencement speaker. [Applause]
Lieutenant Governor Greg Bell: Ladies and gentlemen, honored students, members of the board, president, governor, faculty, and supportive families and spouses, children, parents and grandparents, I'm delighted to be with you today. Let me first make a remark or two.
As I watched these students representative of ten-fold more who are here today, I see that most of you are not 22 years old [Laughter] as is common in most colleges whose classes walk across the stage having completed, usually in about four or five years their degree in a traditional manner. I looked up your footballs team's record. [Laughter] You have no Union Building, no fraternities. You have, in some ways, had a very different experience than people think of in college. Indeed, if your grandfather were to come back and he would tell you about his days at Purdue and he would ask you, well where did you take that class? And you would say, well, on my bed. [Laughter] And on the bus and on the plane. And, oh, what time was your class? Uh, 2:00 in the morning sometimes, and otherwise.
It is remarkable that the delivery of this education has been what it has been. And yet, my shallow but somewhat grounded knowledge, is that you feel about your education about the way other graduates feel about theirs, that it fitted your situation and that you have an excellent education, as good as you made it. As good as you made it. And you are primed now to begin again the learning system we call life.
When I went to law school and we had a tight group of friends and one of whom I kind of lost touch with and I ran into him, and he had gone to a firm that was an old school firm where -- we called them bag carriers. You know, every young attorney wants his own cases. Well, in these older firms, you had to be a bag carrier and first you were number three on the team and you'd go to court, but basically you were trundling things in and out and looking up depositions and then after four or five years, you became the number two bag carrier. Anyway, so I saw him seven or eight years after school and I said, "Reed, how's it going?" And I kind of expected him to express some discontent because he still hadn't had that big trial of his own yet. And he said, "Greg, school is still on." And that's been a theme of my life. School is still on.
I'm the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Utah and most of what I do every day is learn. I don't often let people know how much I'm learning and how much I don't know, [Laughter] but I'm still learning a lot and I'm trying to learn fast and you can see that I'm not 22 either. And so I hope I continue learning for another 20 or 25years. I cannot express to you my depth of pride in what you have accomplished and the obstacles you can overcome. I don't exactly know what you've been through, but I think in general, I sort of understand what it's meant in terms of your sacrifice.
We are very pleased and honored -- I remember the speaker at my commencement in 1972. I remember him, Richard Lindsay, a marvelous man -- or Arch Madsen, I'm sorry, the president of channel five. I don't remember him too well, evidently, but I remember a story he told. And I want you to mark this day because today you will hear really one of the finest citizens in the land and it's a privilege for you to do that.
Scott Anderson is president and chief executive officer of Zions First National Bank, Utah's oldest financial institution, and the only local bank with a statewide presence, operating 106 full service branches in Utah, 25 in Idaho, employing 2,700 people in Utah and Idaho. In addition to the wide range of traditional banking services, Zions has been a leader in online banking, giving an array of investment, mortgage, insurance and loan-origination services for small businesses nationwide. Founded in 1873, Zions has been serving in the intermountain west for almost 133 years.
A native of Salt Lake, Scott joined Zions Bank in December, 1991, previously having served with Bank of America in San Francisco and also in its Asia division in Tokyo. He received his bachelor's degree in philosophy and economics from Columbia University and his master's degree in economics and international studies from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.
He has been a longtime supporter of WGU, and Zions Bank has provided significant funding for this institution. Under his leadership, Zions has been one of the first businesses to provide scholarships for individuals to attend WGU to become teachers, and many Zions Bank employees are currently students at WGU with their tuition paid through the bank's tuition reimbursement program, a remarkable thing.
Anderson was a key driver behind Utah's creation of the Utah Science, Technology and Research Initiative called USTAR. His many meetings with legislators and other key partners led to the senate bill in 2006 formalizing the state's support for USTAR. Over the next 30 years, this investment, combined with future investment of 673 million will generate 242 new Utah based companies, 73,000 new jobs paying 5.5 billion in wages. Expected also to attract 3.1 billion in federal grants and 2.9 billion in additional state tax revenue.
Dedicated to supporting innovation and education, Anderson supports academic excellence through his roles in the Western GU National Advisory Board, Southern Utah University Museum of Arts, U of U Community Leaders' Council on Internationalization, the University of Utah's Together We Reach President's Campaign Cabinet Committee, the U of U Board of Trustees, Middle-Eastern Studies and the Waterford Advisory Council. I always say of Scott, that if there's anything good happening in our community, Scott Anderson is not very far away. Mr. Anderson. [Applause]
A. Scott Anderson: Well, it's a great privilege and pleasure for me to be here with you today. And as your parents and professors, family members, admirers and friends, we are thrilled to honor you, to celebrate your achievements and to encourage you to go forward on a new adventure.
Jacob Bronowski's superb book, The Ascent of Man, said it all when he wrote, "Every civilization has gone forward because of its engagement with what it has set itself to do." The diploma you receive today certifies that you have gained a vast horde of knowledge. Western Governors University has bequeathed you a great legacy. Now it is yours to use and to share. So your task is not complete as you walk across this stage today. It is really only the beginning. As you move forward to your next adventure, do not get trapped by the daily complexities of work and of life.
Everything, Timothy Huffaker tells us, relates to both and time and activity. "We have a choice every day regarding these two precious items. Time comes with birth and requires no effort, whereas activity is born of knowledge and belief. Time continues, regardless of what we do, but we do have a choice as to how we use our time." Or, as Joseph Epstein wrote, "All men and women are born, suffer and die. What distinguishes one from another is their dreams and what they do to make them come about." We do not choose to be born, we do not choose our parents. We do not choose our historical epic, the country of our birth, or the immediate circumstances of our upbringing. Nor do we choose the time and conditions of our death. But within this realm of choicelessness, we do choose how we live.
So on this wonderful day, as we gather together to celebrate your academic success, let me share with you three thoughts that I hope will enrich your life, make your next adventure more rewarding, better prepare you for the workforce, and make your career more successful. The first is about creativity. We all have the need, in fact the necessity, to foster creativity in our personal lives and in our business careers. Creativity, I believe, is a sacred calling that should be nurtured and celebrated. We all possess it, but some allow it to flourish and guide them while others stifle and hide it. Do not let others discourage you from thinking differently. Do not let others discourage you from taking a new road, or coming up with a whole new idea, or looking at something in a new way. Be creative. Learn to be innovative.
My wife and I recently enjoyed an art exhibit of the works of Wayne Thiebaud. At 90, Mr. Thiebaud is one of America's greatest, most successful and most famous artists. His works sell for millions of dollars. And what does he paint? A slice of chocolate cake, a rack of pies, a bowl of soup, ice cream cones, gumball machines. Now, some may wonder if this is really art. If painting a picture of two gumball machines qualifies as a piece of art. And they may wonder why some collector would pay three million dollars for that painting. But it is, and a collector did. Many may say, well I could paint two gumball machines. But the fact of the matter is, they didn't, and Mr. Thiebaud did and he sold his painting of two gumball machines, as I said, for three million dollars. So I call this The Thiebaud Principle of Creativity. As you go about life, as you go about work, do it with your own creative focus. Look at your task in ways that others have not. Be willing to alter your original plan to accomplish your goal. Allow yourself to think and to act creatively. If you do, you too will create something from nothing and leave your mark on the world.
So in regard to creativity, my advice to you as you move forward is to remove any invisible barriers that you or others may have placed on you. And recognize that there are no limits to what you can accomplish. Surround yourself with things and people that inspire, so that when you begin to create, your mind will be clear and your senses will be sharp. And then, test the envelope of human creativity, intellect, energy and promise. Seek to motivate, to produce, to achieve, to grow, to unite. Be open to new ideas. Know when to draw the line. And remember that there are simply some things that are not for sale.
My second thought is about education. We must all continue to learn. Our education is a never-ending story. The degree you receive today certifies that you have gained all of the core competencies. However, truly successful people go beyond these core competencies. They've learned to become familiar and enjoy ideas and abstractions. They are good at analysis and synthesis. They are self-disciplined and well-organized. They have the ability to learn quickly and to work well as a team member. They make the most of their environment and they have the flexibility to change when change is necessary and they make the most of their opportunities.
So in regard to education, I recommend that you leverage the core competencies that you have gained at WGU and that you take advantage of your experiences in life and in work. Always finish what you start and then take pride in your work and take pride in your learning.
My third thought is about leadership. Leadership is nothing more than the ability to get things started and to facilitate change. The art of leading starts with a vision, a mental picture of where you want to go. But that is just the beginning. It has been said, and it certainly is true, that a vision without the ability to implement it is nothing but a wasted wish. In business, this means that nobody ever made money out of an idea. It is the implementation of the idea that makes the money.
Plutarch, the ancient Greek philosopher, wrote brilliantly about leadership when he penned, "What we achieve inwardly will change our outer reality." This is an astounding statement, yet proven a thousand times every day of our lives. It expresses in part our inescapable connection with the outside world. The fact that we touch other people's lives simply by existing. Your WGU experience will intensify your ability to lead and your ability to touch other people. Your intelligence, your capacity for hard work, the education you have earned and received give you unique status and with that status, unique responsibilities. The way you vote, the way you live, the way you work, the way you love, the pressure you bring to bear on government all will have an impact beyond your personal borders. Your privilege and your burden are to reach into the very heart of the community, to help solve its problems and then to share in its prosperity. J.R. Rawlings said, "If you choose to use your status and influence to raise your voice on behalf of those who have no voice, if you choose to identify not only with the powerful, but the powerless, if you retain the ability to imagine yourselves into the lives of those who do not have your advantages, then it will not only be your proud families who celebrate your existence, it will be thousands of people whose reality you have helped transform for the better."
So on this thought of leadership, I encourage you to be a leader. To develop your vision and get things started. To facilitate change, to live each day with courage, to be tough but fair, to talk less and say more. Great leadership is not always found in significant change or monumental transformation, but it is always found in heart and character, and often in simple things and simple tasks of which only you can do.
In closing, I want to encourage you to remember and do one more thing. I encourage you to use your academic achievements we honor you here today to facilitate progress on a much grander scale than mere business success. I encourage you to use your influence to give back to society some of what you have reaped. I encourage you to use your newfound clout to change the reality of what is to what can be. In Jon Huntsman Sr.'s book Winners Never Cheat, Mr. Huntsman concludes by talking about the importance of giving back, even the obligation we all have to give back, regardless of what our circumstances are. Let me quote you from his book. He said, "No matter what the field, no star of any successful story is totally self-made. Along the way, all of us receive from others. Most of us are beneficiaries of lucky breaks. We owe a portion of our success to others and the only way to repay that assistance is by sharing good fortune."
It is vitally important for each of us, for each of you, who are recipients of so much, to find opportunities to give back. This reaching out to give back has the unique ability to lift and build communities at the same time as it lifts and builds individuals, giving them hope for the future and pride in the past. This is as important a piece of truth as anything you can learn.
In the book Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, a dying old professor named Morrie teaches life's greatest lessons to a former student who comes to sit with him each Tuesday. This former student has received great success and wealth and fame in the world, and yet he's confused by this success. On one Tuesday, Morrie asks his former student, do you know what really gives you satisfaction? What, replied the young man. Offering others what you have to give. Giving to others is what makes one feel alive. Not your car, or your house, or your paycheck. Not what you look like in the mirror, but what you give. When you can make someone smile, then you are alive and the world is good.
So notwithstanding what has gone before you, not withstanding your pain or failures, your happiness or your success, I would encourage you to make the rest of your life a superior experience. Seneca said, "As is a tale, so is life. Not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters." Franklin Roosevelt said it this way, "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough to those who have too little."
During the Great Depression, many in California doubted that the Golden Gate Bridge should, or could, be built. But when it was completed, the chief engineer of the project, Joseph Strauss, said, "When people of good will join together in a worthy cause, and work tirelessly and unselfishly toward its realization, there is virtually no limit to what they can accomplish." And in fact, there is no limit to what can be accomplished. There is no limit what we can accomplish. And there is no limit what you can accomplish. The present and the future rest with you.
So again, with one chance to live, make of it a superior experience. Benefit from the legacy that has been given you. Hold true to those truths that good people everywhere cherish. So go forth on your next adventure. Take your dreams, implement them. Build your future. We look forward with excitement to your next adventure and your next journey and we look forward to seeing all of your future achievements. You have our congratulations, our love and our blessings on what you have accomplished here at WGU. Thank you very much. [Applause]
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: Thank you, Scott, for that great advice. And I will say to those of you who don't know Scott, that I know of no better example of the principles he's espoused than he himself. He has been a great contributor and supporter of the community, involved in so many community affairs. And in particular has been both personally and as Zions Bank, a great supporter of the university. We want to recognize Scott today for both his community and business accomplishments and particularly, the support that the university has received from the early years, both financial support and that of scholarships to students. And I consider it a great honor at this time, on behalf of our 19 member governors and the WGU Board of Trustees, to award A. Scott Anderson an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Western Governors University. [Applause]
Western Governors University held its semi-annual commencement on July 23, 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lumina Foundation for Education President and CEO Jamie Merisotis delivered the commencement address.
John M. Steele, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Hospital Corporation of America (HCA), celebrates Western Governors University's graduates at the online school's February 2012 commencement in Atlanta. HCA is the nation's largest provider of healthcare services, and its employees have benefited from WGU's model of competency-based online education. Nearly 300 HCA employees are enrolled at WGU, and another 75 are graduates of WGU's Health Professions, Information Technology, and Business programs.
Transcription of video:
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: We're pleased this morning to have as our commencement speaker John M. Steele, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Hospital Corporation of America, HCA. HCA has been one of the great corporate partners for WGU and we've appreciated over many years their support, both in helping us to find the competencies for our health care degrees and in working with a number of their employees, some of whom are graduating here today.
Mr. Steele is responsible at HCA for recruiting, benefits, compensation, employee relations, labor relations, employee development and HR administration. In addition, he has administration oversight for corporate services, the HCA Foundation and community relations. That, I think, is a great argument for a well- rounded education. We're pleased to have with us today Mr. Steele's wife Jennifer, and his son Cole, who joined us for these ceremonies. We will be pleased now to hear from John M. Steele.
John Steele: Thank you Bob. Dr. Mendenhall, Board of Directors, faculty and students, and their family members, I really appreciate the opportunity to be part of this occasion today. It really is a great pleasure and an honor for me to be with you here today and to hear some of the success stories from this remarkable institution. You know, one of the other reasons I wanted to be here though is like everybody out there today, you know, I've got my own bucket list, and on that bucket list was I wanted to someday torture myself by preparing a commencement address for a group of people that I hardly knew. And so thank you for sparing me the indignity of having to go to my son's elementary school or likewise to make my plea for that opportunity.
As Dr. Mendenhall mentioned today, we've got hundreds of graduates right here in front of me which is outstanding, and hundreds also over the internet, along with their friends and loved ones who are clearly proud of the hard work and proven ability that you have demonstrated to master competencies that we as employers of the 21st century need in our employees. This is such a remarkable institution. The fact that 19 governors from states in the middle and western part of this country got together over 15 years ago and put together a new model for education, one that didn't have all the normal trappings that we're used to; no buildings, no credit hours, no pre-requisites. Even today it sounds like it wouldn't work, and then to top it off make it affordable. What a brilliant idea and the success sits before me today.
You're fortunate to be graduates of WGU for a number of reasons. First and foremost as I just mentioned, you demonstrated that you can master competencies that are necessary in the real world, but beyond that, you've demonstrated an ability to manage and learn in a complex model where in many cases, probably most cases, you've had to continue your responsibilities on the job as well as take care of your family. That is a set of skills that we need in today's world.
So on behalf of HCA I'm here today because we believe in the fundamental education model of Western Governors University. As Dr. Mendenhall indicated, we've been here from the beginning, particularly working with the School of Health and the RN to BSN program. Not only with money, but also with time and people we were part of a group of companies that represented over 600 hospitals to support the development of the first ever bachelor's degree in nursing -- easy for me to say -- that was entirely competency-based and entirely online.
In addition, team members from HCA have worked with WGU to develop the university's MBA and health care management. In fact, WGU's first graduate from that program was an employee, Michael Alvarez, who completed his MBA in 13 months while working full-time and caring for his family. According to Michael, HCA really knew what they were doing when they teamed up with WGU. They knew how critical it is for people in a competitive industry like healthcare to go back to school. These people are working full time and earning their degree has to be on their time, so it becomes a win-win situation for everyone. Thanks Michael.
As I said, we clearly appreciate the competency-based model that the Western Governors University represents. We currently have over 300 hundred students who are attending WGU. One of those just happens to be my former administrative assistant, Shana Jordan, who is working on her Bachelor's in Human Resource Management. Since she started working on that degree she's moved up in the organization and is now part of the recruiting team.
We also have 75 graduates from WGU in our ranks. Folks like Michael Alvarez or Jill Howard. Jill Howard who graduated from WGU with a Master's in Health Care Administration two years ago was recently promoted as chief operating officer of one of HCA's largest facilities in her hometown of Nashville, and she beat out 38 experienced hospital executives to get that job, and when you ask her the single most important reason she says Western Governors University and the degree she obtained.
Of course, I could sit up here all day and brag about HCA, and if you let me I will, but I know you won't let me. There are a number of institutions companies that have done remarkably well and also are big supporters of HCA so we know we're not alone. Last night during the mixer I met a number of folks. My new friend Dexter for instance, who is a vice president in a bank, runs his own consulting company and finished his degree at the same time. That's impressive stuff. But one last point of privilege since I'm up here anyway, there are a number of HCA employees who are graduating today, so if I could ask my fellow HCA years who are here to stand up and let me at least see who you are that would be great. Huh? Thank you.
Those of us who are in human resources in large complex companies today are always debating the following fundamental question: How do we determine the requirements for future talent in a time of such dramatic change? How do we make judgments about the kinds of skills that will be needed in the future and when and where will we need those skills. It's never been tougher from my perspective to answer those questions. Maybe there was a day in the past when we could sort of think clearly about what we needed tomorrow, but in today's world of change we've lost that ability to be very predictable.
My conclusion, and I believe the conclusion of many of my peers in human resources is that what we need are people who are truly versatile, able to learn efficiently and effective. Folks who can master change at the same pace that their company is mastering change and folks who are self-motivated. Those are the kind of folks that I think will be successful in the future and those are the kind of people you represent as graduates of Western Governors University.
Let me just tap a little bit about health care as an example of what I mean. In health care we see people at their most vulnerable. We see him often at birth, we can sometimes see them at death. We need the right technical skills to be sure, but more than that we need people who have the calling, who understand what it's like to really care for people. People who understand that by the very definition of care there are going to be unpredictable times with the people and with the process. What may sound like a great career choice at 16 sometimes pales, when you are actually at the bedside it's a bedpan or other things that you hadn't quite anticipated back in the day.
That's what's so great about graduates like yourself; real world experience before you go back to school. You get it. You understand the importance. It's a recipe for success, whether it's in health care, software, teaching, accounting, management, you name it. The kind of leadership shown by Western Governors University has attracted and continues to attract ever wider recognition and appreciation, not just by the business community and folks like HCA, but also by your governmental leaders. As you know, your president was one of only 10 university presidents invited to the White House to discuss higher education with President Obama this past December. So congratulations graduates, you made the right choice.
Of course with that choice comes an opportunity, dare I say an obligation, for you to represent this new kind of an educational model to your employers and to your friends as you go forward. So let me throw another commercial from HCA into the mix. You know, I'm the head of human resources there so we're always looking for people. But if you're interested in finding out about what HCA has to offer, feel free to email me directly at email@example.com. Just to make sure that I won't lose you in the mix of all those emails that come in, put in the subject line WGU Rocks! Parentheses. So I'll know how I came to get that communication, so be sure and do that. I can't promise you a job, but I promise you'll receive real and serious consideration for the positions that we have open based on the success and your accomplishment here at WGU.
No commencement address will be complete without sharing some lessons learned. Ideally it would be one thing, but as Paul McCartney says, "In this ever-changing world in which we live in…" it's nearly impossible to do that. So let me give you three things. None of these are rocket science, you've heard them all before, but let me just tell you from my perspective as someone who sees over 200,000 people periodically throughout the HCA system, these things are important.
First, your success at WGU is only the beginning. It's essential that you maintain, exercise and improve your skills. Continuous learning is your best ticket to success in the future. You've got a great start with this degree, now it's up to you to continue to learn. Second, don't let this thing overwhelm you. The reality of today's world is the way we work doesn't necessarily work for people. Technology, computers, et cetera, 24 hours a day, you are not a computer. You got to find the balance in everything that you do.
The number one issue we get it HCA in our employee engagement survey is workload management. Workload. How do we deal with all of the demands every single day that are coming at you. So be sure and look for those ways to balance yourself. Maybe it's a cold beer, a glass of wine, a shot of tequila perhaps, maybe a sniffer of brandy. No, it doesn't have to all be alcohol. You can actually go for a walk if you choose, a yoga class, whatever motivates you, but look for ways to find some balance in life.
And finally you got to keep your sense of humor in all of this. There's plenty of research out there if you want to read about how important it is to laugh every day once in a while. The good news for people like me who are in human resources is we're dealing with people and guess what, they're pretty funny. Let me share a couple of examples of humor just from the application or the resume process. For instance, the individual who told us he finished eighth in his class of ten. Or the individual who received a plague for being salesperson of the year. What? Or the women who left her last job for maturity leave. I'm pretty sure spellcheck ruined that one.
And most scary of all, the individual who put in his hobbies that he enjoyed cooking Chinese and Italians. I could tell you we're big fans of almost everything, but not cooking anyone. So I know not everybody gets the benefit of being in human resources, but you're all in areas where you're in contact with people and there's something you can enjoy about every single day and find a reason to laugh a little bit, so please do.
Let me close by saying once again, congratulations to all of you who are here and who are listening and watching for your success. I leave here more confident than ever in the future of our company and of our country by having seen the talent that is and will be part of America's future economic success. Congratulations again.
WGU was founded in 1997 by 19 U.S. governors, and leading the way was then governor of Utah Michael Leavitt. Governor Leavitt believes in WGU's competency-based online degree programs so much that his own son graduated from the online school at the July 2012 commencement ceremony in Salt Lake City. Governor Leavitt was the commencement speaker and shared his thoughts on the value of earning a degree online with WGU.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush addressed the graduating class of winter 2013 at online university Western Governors University's winter 2013 commencement ceremony in Atlanta's Philips Arena, February 9, 2013.
Transcription of video:
The Honorable Jeb Bush: Good morning everybody, it is a joy to be with you all for this milestone event. I want to thank President Bob and the leaders and faculty of Western Governors University. I want to thank the 375 graduates that are here today and the thousands of graduates that are watching online, I hope you all can see us well. It is a joy to be here.
So kind of nervous, you know, former politicians don't get this kind of crowd, so I have to admit I'm a little nervous, and when I get nervous I always call my Chief Political Advisor, kind of the head of all things Bush, from the Bush family: My mother. And I asked my mother, "I'm speaking to this group of really talented people, they're getting a degree, they've worked really hard, the university's made it possible for them to continue to pursue their dreams. What should I talk about?" And she said, "Jeb, talk about 12 minutes and then sit down, and let the graduates enjoy their success." So let's get our watches out. I'm pretty sure I can do this.
Normally at commencement addresses I like to say a few words about the parents of the graduates. You all may have been in ceremonies like that where you ask the parents that made it possible for the students to graduate and at most universities it gets a nice round of applause. But here, not only have most of you worked your way through school, many of you are parents yourself. So give yourself a round of applause for the incredible job that you've done. [Applause] I want to thank you and thank you for your determination, for showing your kids and your entire families the importance of lifelong learning, and also the importance of sticking with it. Dogged determination is a virtue that you all now have seen first hand.
I also want to congratulate you for your vision. You had the wisdom to see a better life yourself, and you understood what was required of you. That is surprisingly a rare quality, sadly, in our country today. It's amazing how many people wait for life to happen to them rather than opposite. And even more amazing, these same people sometimes express shock when life disappoints them. Understanding that life requires action, that achieving great things takes hard work, that accomplishment only comes with struggle, these are valuable lessons in life, whether you're 13 or 33 or like me, 59 years old and 52 or 51, 50 seconds. In other words, next week, I'm turning the dreaded 60.
Though I was born to what turns out to be a famous family, I didn't know it at the time, and I was fortunate in many ways, one of the greatest opportunities in my life came when I was thrown into a challenge for which I was not prepared in the slightest. I can now admit that I didn't at the time. I was 24 years old and newly married with two little kids, little kids. And I moved to Venezuela to open up a bank office for a Texas bank. It was really, really hard.
My wife made huge sacrifices to the point where we'd have water one hour, three times a day, and Pampers cost a buck. To put it in perspective, and we didn't have a buck for Pampers that being generated for these two little kids, trust me. So we had to organize ourselves around the water to make sure that we could clean the diapers. That kind of stuff in a place. And it was hard. And we almost gave up. But eventually we figured it out. And though it was hard, I wouldn't have traded that experience for anything. I was pushing myself well beyond the boundaries of my comfort zone, and that gave me the confidence and my wife, to do even more challenging things later in life.
So for those of you who wondered if a few years ago, whether to go forward and get your college degree, you did the right thing. Not just because having that degree will give you greater professional opportunities, you did the right thing because you challenged yourself. You didn't sit back to wait for life to happen to you.
I want to tell you something else. By enrolling in Western Governors and by completing a degree here, you're on the leading edge of education. In fact, you're a revolutionary. Perhaps you thought by getting a college degree you were doing the opposite of rebelling, but you chose to go to a revolutionary institution. It's not just the online classwork a lot of universities and schools are doing that now. It's that it's not the education built around professional skills, which in a sense has been with us for a long time. It's not even the system of personal mentors which a time tested way to make sure people are following a path suited for their ambitions.
These are all important ideas and they work. But there is still one more revolutionary idea at work at Western Governors University. It's the idea that learning is not something measured by time. I want you to take a second to think about that. Learning is not measured by time. It seems so obvious, right? You all have just gone through this experience, but trust me, 99 percent of all the education opportunities in our country are measured by time.
While in most schools and universities, that's how it works. You spend three hours a week in a classroom for 12 weeks, you get three credits towards graduation. It doesn't matter whether you've mastered a skill or an area of knowledge. It doesn't matter whether you got an A or a C at the exam, it doesn't matter whether there's a test at all. I remember those pass/fail courses a long, long time ago. All that matters is whether you showed up.
Now, since many of you are in the working world already, you know kind of how idiotic that is. In the working world showing up is not good enough. You have to accomplish things. You have to be competent, and hard working, and if at all possible, creative. It's that expectation which Western Governors is trying to meet. In most colleges it's show up and get a degree. At Western Governors it's "show me what you've got" and get a degree.
Eventually the rest of higher education will catch up. And my guess is this contagion, this beneficial contagion will also hit the K 12 system as well, creating huge opportunities for the teachers that are going to be graduating and teaching in this new environment, and hopefully continue your revolutionary spirit, but also assuring that these huge learning gaps that exist in our country begin to narrow.
More change has to happen. I say this as someone who has a passion for school reform. I talk to educators and legislators and governors in almost all the states. We talk about how to get more out of our schools. How to give our students more, how to help them succeed at every level. And what I've learned over many years of study and reflection, and fighting the fight are three big things. First, don't ever doubt someone's ability to learn. Everyone can learn. I don't care where someone was born, what race they are, what language is spoken at home, or how much money their parents have. Every child can learn. So if they don't learn, don't give them an easy excuse.
When I was governor, and working with committed reformers, I confronted a culture that said it's okay for students to fail. It was a culture that gave students, their parents, their teachers, and their principals many excuses, but no solutions, and no opportunities to avoid failure. So we raised standards, we rewarded success, we showed that when you give students a quality of opportunity, they could rise to the occasion, and they did.
Second, education is a marketplace and the bigger the marketplace, the better the product. Give people many choices in their schools and you'll get better schools. Give people only one choice, and you'll get worse schools. If you didn't have the chance of attending Western Governors University, what was the choice? Something different, something more expensive I'll bet, or something that would've required far more of your time, which, when you think about it, another way of being very expensive is because it takes away your time and that time has value. A lot of value. But you had a choice and that's the way it should be.
The thing that I don't understand is why we don't have more choices in our schools from elementary school all the way up to masters and PhD programs. Think about it, it's almost un American. Go down the aisle of any major supermarket these days and you'll find for example, an incredible selection of milk. You can get whole milk, people still drink that apparently, two percent milk, low fat milk, skim milk. You can get organic milk, milk with extra vitamin D or milk with enzymes to improve the way your brain functions. You can get flavored milk chocolate, vanilla, strawberry. They even make milk for people who can't drink milk, soy milk, almond milk, rice milk.
I do the shopping in my house, and it is extraordinary to pause in just that one section and see the abundance of choice that we have, and yet, in the most important thing that goes on in our life, assuring that people can pursue their dreams, that they're equipped with the capacity not only to have a dream, but to pursue it, we say all too often, there's only one way that you can go. If we have that kind of choice in milk, I believe we should have it in education as well.
And finally, I learned something else about education in America. We need to be more creative. We need to shake things up. Just look around you. Many of you are changing careers, launching new beginnings, some of you tried college when you were younger and for whatever reason it didn't work out. Maybe you couldn't afford it, maybe you weren't ready, but you didn't give up. You moved forward, you figured things out, and eventually you found a place right for you, this college. A college which recognizes and rewards life experience.
People didn't think it was possible, but then again, people didn't think you were possible. And so you proved them wrong. That's why you're the revolutionaries. Maybe you didn't plan on being a revolutionary, and if you take offense to being called one, this is a term of endearment as far as I'm concerned, so take it for that. But the truth is, you don't have to wave a flag or shut down a city or start a revolution. You just have to show people that the status quo doesn't have to be permanent. You've lived that lesson in your own lives, you've shown yourself and your friends that you can change things for the better, and what happens next is entirely up to you. Congratulations and thanks for having me. God bless you all. [Applause]
Frank D. Alvarez, former President and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and a member of Western Governors University's Board of Trustees (BOT), addressed the roughly 500 graduates and their families who attended WGU's Winter 2014 Commencement at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center on February 8, 2014.
Former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt, a co-founder of Western Governors University, attended WGU's 27th semiannual commencement ceremony in Salt Lake City on July 12, 2014, and said a few words to the graduating class.
U.S. Under Secretary of Education Dr. Ted Mitchell delivered the keynote address at Western Governors University's 27th semiannual commencement ceremony in Salt Lake City on July 12, 2014. Dr. Mitchell praised the 5,541-strong graduating class as pioneers and shared the Obama administration's commitment to paving the way for continued innovation in higher education.
Horst H. Schulze, Chairman and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group, told the more than 6,700 members of the WGU graduating class of winter 2015 that their diploma is proof that they DID it—but now, it's up to them to create a vision for what their futures mean, and to make it happen.
Claire Bilby, Senior Vice President, Event Operations and Premium Services at Walt Disney World Resort, addressed graduates, their families and friends, faculty, and other supporter at WGU's Winter 2016 Commencement on Saturday, February 6, at Disney's Coronado Springs in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Transcription of video:
Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall: We're pleased to be in Orlando and being hosted by Disney today, and especially pleased to have as our commencement speaker, Claire Bilby, the Senior Vice President for Event Operations and Premium Services for the Walt Disney World Resort.
Claire is the Senior Vice President, as I mentioned of Event Operations, but has responsibility for the Disney Institute, catering and convention services, park event operations, Disney special attractions, and other responsibilities within the Disney enterprise.
She began her career with Disney in 1988, has held a variety of executive positions, most recently before her current position, was the Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Disneyland Paris and Europe, leading all of the Disney parks and resorts' marketing efforts across Europe. She has also served as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Disney Vacation Club.
Among her many accomplishments she helped to launch several Disney theme parks, including Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney's MGM Studios now known as Hollywood Studios, Disneyland Paris, the Animal Kingdom, and Disneyland California Adventure. It's with great pleasure that we welcome Claire Bilby as our commencement speaker. [Applause]
Claire Bilby: Honored faculty, esteemed and patient family members, and members of this graduating class of 2016, legend has it that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's son, James, once asked him for some advice on public speaking. He gave him three pieces of advice: Be sincere, be brief, and be seated. I attend to follow that advice today. After all, I am by no means the star of this show... you are. You have worked hard, you have sacrificed, and the people surrounding you, many of them here today, have sacrificed as well. And I am here to tell you one thing: It's worth it.
So, before I'm seated, let me tell you why I feel this way. In 1923, two brothers from Kansas City moved west to Hollywood, and started an animation studio in their uncle's garage. Their names were Walt and Roy Disney. In 1928, they created the world's first cartoon with fully synchronized sound, starring an adorable little rascal named Mickey Mouse.
Within a year, Mickey Mouse was the most popular cartoon character in the world. And not even the Great Depression could dim the public's appetite for Disney's cartoons. The company grew to what it is today, the world leader in family entertainment, employing 74,000 people just right here in central Florida. In fact, Walt Disney World is the largest single site employer in America.
Now, let me share something curious with you: Neither Walt Disney nor his brother Roy had a college degree. In fact, Walt never even graduated from high school. And graduates, before your family members start giving you the stink eye, let me share with you one additional fact. Even though neither one of them ever earned a college diploma, both Walt and Roy placed a huge premium on higher education.
Walt, who dropped out of high school to serve as an ambulance driver in World War I used his war time savings to take classes in painting and drawing once he was back at home. Later, as soon as the Mickey Mouse cartoons began to return a profit, Walt invested a considerable chunk of his revenue into art lessons for his entire animation staff. That priority came before the investment in today's Burbank Studio, and before setting money aside for creating breakthroughs such as the multi plane camera. Walt invested in knowledge, and the education of his people first.
After all, infrastructure and technology are very important, but as Walt once said, "You can dream, create, design, and build the most beautiful, wonderful place in the world. But it requires people to make the dream a reality." And as everyone here grasps intuitively, there is no better way to invest in people than to enrich them than by furthering their education.
Throughout their careers, and to the ends of their lives, the Disney brothers lived that philosophy. In 1955 Walt hired a professional educator to create what is known today as Disney University. It trains and edifies our cast in a wide variety of disciplines. It is broadly recognized as one of the most inspired in house training organizations in the world.
In 1961, after the feature films and the opening of Disneyland had secured the company's success, the first priority for Walt and Roy Disney was to fund, create, and found a private university for students of the visual and performing arts. That university, the California Institute of the Arts, known today as Cal Arts, is still respected the world over for excellence in its field.
And the tradition of educational excellence continued long after Walt and Roy passed away. For instance, 20 years ago this month, our company launched the Disney Institute, which I am privileged to have as part of my area of responsibility. The Disney Institute teaches organizations around the world how to emulate Disney's methods of leadership, employee engagement, and guest service. My point here is, that even though Disney was founded by a couple of guys who didn't have lot of education themselves, they recognized, and the company that they found continues to recognize that an educated workforce is absolutely necessary for a business to succeed.
Disney is not alone in that assessment. In most companies today, a degree is the price of entry to be considered for a leadership position. Part of that reason for this of course is the subject matter expertise. It takes knowledge to communicate effectively with your colleagues, and to serve those whom our businesses serve.
But another part, and sometimes I would say the larger part is the tenacity required to desire, work toward, and obtain a university education. The diploma you receive today is proof that you have the ability to conceive a long term goal, navigate a complex path to achieve it, and succeed in bringing it to reality what was only an idea years before.
It is proof that you have what Walt Disney would've once referred to as "moxie." And every leader and educator here would know as "vision." No matter what field you're in or what field you're entering, vision is a requirement for long term success. So the degree you receive today can make you more valuable to the business you're in, or the business you will be joining. And when I say "valuable" I'm not speaking philosophically.
Two years ago a Washington think tank known as the Economic Policy Institute analyzed Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine the dollar and cents value of a college education. They found on average, in the early 1980s, a college graduate made 64 percent more than those without a degree working in a similar field. By the time of the millennium the wage premium had risen to 85 percent. As of 2009, it was 89 percent. And in 2014 college graduates were earning on average 98 percent more than non graduates in similar roles. That was two years ago. So today I would not be surprised if the premium was a hundred percent. Double the day for doing what every graduate here today has had the vision to do. So family, faculty members, please let's give these superstars a big hand. [Applause]
Now I know you have all heard the phrase "a win/win." Well graduates of 2016, what you accomplished today is a win/win/win. It is a victory for the businesses you serve, for the people who love you, and of course it's a memorable victory for you. And I want to tell you something more. We here at Disney are proud beyond words that Western Governors University has chosen us to hold the commencement here on property.
And here at Disney, we have a phrase that we use to describe this place that you may have seen on TV recently. The phrase is: "Unforgettable happens here." Well, ladies and gentlemen, what you've accomplished today, you give entirely new meaning to that phrase, and I hope you will never forget this day.
I trust you will always remember the honor you have gained for yourselves and your families through this achievement. And to the words of congratulations you're going to hear today, please let me add 74,000 more. I speak for every Disney cast member here in Florida when I say, "What you have accomplished is remarkable. It is commendable, and you have every right to be proud. You rock!" [Applause]
So, be sincere, be brief, be seated. I assure you have been sincere. Every word you have heard over the last five minutes, comes, I guarantee you, from the heart. I trust that I've been brief although I know minutes seems like hours when you're waiting to cross this stage, and receive that validation of your achievement. I decided when I was invited to speak I would spend fewer than ten minutes at this lectern looks like I've been successful and met that goal, and some. So now I will be seated. So congratulations one and all.
On July 16, 2016 Founder and the Chief Executive Officer of the Wasatch Group, Dell Loy Hansen delivered the WGU Commencement Address. Hansen was also awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa degree. This commencement was held at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. This video contains both the awarding of the honorary degree and the commencement address.
WGU 2017 Winter Commencement Speaker Will Weatherford, Managing Partner, Weatherford Partners and Former Speaker, Florida House of Representatives.
Transcription of video:
Will Weatherford: Good morning. What a great day. I'm so honored to be here, and President Pulsipher and to the members of the boards of trustees, the faculty, the parents and the loved ones, and most importantly to the graduates, and to those watching who are graduates, thank you for allowing me to be a part of this very special ceremony.
It's especially meaningful to me because I believe Western Governors University represents the future in higher education in the 21st century. With its competency based education system, and its student centered focus, Western Governors University has become a trailblazer in higher education in a rapidly changing world. As I've felt today in the presence of this room, there is something special about WGU.
Now they say that confession is good for the soul, so, I guess it would be appropriate for me to start out this morning with a confession. I don't remember a single word that was said at my graduation from my college. Sadly enough, what's even more embarrassing is, I was one of the speakers when I graduated from college. So I say that because I don't expect you to live on every word I'm about to say, after all, this speech does in conveniently stand between you and the wonderful and hard work diploma that you're about to receive here shortly.
But I know also how important this day is, not just for you, but for your parents and your family members and your friends and your loved ones. And I just look out in this room, and to see the thousands and thousands of people that showed up to support you. It's clear that you worked very hard to get here, and you sacrificed to get here. But there's a lot of people in this room who also sacrificed to help make this day a reality. Make sure and tell them today how much you appreciate them.
Because of my public service in elected office, I had the opportunity to give a lot of speeches. What makes this one a little bit even more special is that part of me feels like I should be sitting out there with you. It was stated just now that the average age of the graduate is 39 years old. My wife and I both turned 37 this year and we have four children. And so I say that because this is not one of those speeches where I feel like I'm passing the gavel onto another generation. I'm talking to my generation. And I believe that together, we can make this world and this country a much better place, and today is a big step for you in helping make that happen.
Now, I was thinking about the fact that I get to deliver some of the last words that you'll get to hear before you become a graduate. I believe last words can be very instructive, they're important things. There's actually some interesting history of people who actually on their deathbeds, their last words, the last words that people said before they passed away. And I think it's worth reflecting on that for just a moment. So here are some actual last words from some leaders and some names you'll recognize.
First, from the former president of the United States, and one of our founding fathers, John Adams. Now John Adams had a life long competition with Thomas Jefferson. And what he didn't know is that before he died, Thomas Jefferson had died four hours earlier and they both died on the 50th anniversary of The Declaration of Independence, July 4th. And on his deathbed, the last words that John Adams said was, "Thomas Jefferson lives." Ironic. True story.
The powerful Alexander the Great had no children. He had amassed this massive empire and all of his generals were at his bedside asking him, "Alexander, who is going to take over this empire that you've created?" Alexander the Great replied to them on his deathbed, his last words, "Whoever is the strongest."
And lastly, to a successful actor and Hollywood entertainer, Humphrey Bogart, his last words I thought were somewhat interesting. "I never switched from scotch to martinis." [Laughter] True story, look it up.
Now, I wouldn't necessarily compare myself to those people or their last words certainly. But I am going to give you a few last words and some pieces of advice that have served me well in my tenure. The first is easy. It's to never, ever, ever give up. There's a book that just recently came out by a lady named Angela Duckworth, it's called Grit. If you haven't read it, you should. And essentially, the argument that she makes that's based with data and research is that forever we've always thought that success correlated with intelligence. How high was your IQ? What did you get on your SAT score? That's what would determine how successful you would be in life.
What she found, when she dug into it, and the research showed is that someone's desire to succeed, their ability to persevere, their ability to fight through challenges that come before them is the greatest indicator of whether or not someone will succeed. So it's not just how smart you are, it's how willing are you to fight and work hard to achieve that success. Never, ever give up.
Number two. Never live a life of fear. There's a difference between living a life in fear, and being scared. We've all been scared. I almost died in a plane crash 12 years ago. That was pretty scary, okay? There is nothing wrong with being scared. But living a life of fear is a dangerous thing. And in the Bible, over 350 times the phrase is used, "do not be afraid, do not be scared, do not fear." Maybe God was trying to make a point, what do you think?
Psychologists will tell you that fear is one of the most powerful emotions that a human can have. Fear is what cripples our national politics, fear is what prevents entrepreneurs from taking the risk to achieve something great. Fear prevents us from living our dreams. Never live your life in fear.
Number three. We have a responsibility to give back by serving others no matter who we are, or what circumstances we find ourselves in. Churchill came to the United States in 1943 and spoke at a Harvard graduation and his speech was called and entitled, "The price of greatness is responsibility." His speech was the fact that America had become a great nation. The greatness of America though is not endowed by our creator. The greatness of America is not guaranteed. It is earned by each generation and we each have a responsibility to preserve its greatness.
You see, the idea of America is exceptional, but we live up to that idea because what is embedded in that idea is that we are people who serve each other, and we serve those who are greatest in need. So whether it's giving back by mentoring a young person, serving in a soup kitchen, helping someone in their time of need, or any other form of public service, always find a way to give back.
Number four. Be prepared for the changing world that is around you. The world is changing quickly. We are in the middle of the fourth industrial revolution with technology, artificial intelligence, and global connectivity changing the way that we live our lives. Education is no longer something that you're finished with after you get your degree. Your degree today is only part of that life long learning process that you are now going to be proceeding forward with.
Business is changing. Health care is changing. Education is changing. Information technology is changing. The world is not stagnant, it is moving at a rapid pace, and more rapid than ever before so commit yourselves to life long learning, and making sure that you can compete in this knowledge based economy.
Last, and number five is that your character matters more than your reputation. When I was a young man, I had a brother, his name was Drew, and Drew got to play quarterback for Florida State University for four years, about ten years ago. And I will never forget when coach Bobby Bowden, the legendary coach of Florida State came to our house to recruit my brother to play for him.
And we were talking about what type of environment he was going to set for his student athletes, and he told my mom and us as kids, that character mattered more than reputation because reputation is what other people think about you. Your character is what God knows about you. Character is more important than reputation. [Applause]
So let's rehash. Never give up. Do not live a life of fear. Give back by serving others. Be prepared for the changing world. And remember that your character matters more than your reputation. Today is a great milestone in your life. You have a degree and you have gained knowledge and wisdom that will give you new opportunities as you go forward. Many of you will go on to further your education, others will be entering the workforce, many of you have been in the workforce for a very long time. Whatever your next step is, I wish you all the success in it.
But I have one last thought for you. My favorite last word example. It's from a beloved children's author and probably the first author many of you ever read: Dr. Seuss. Dr. Seuss, on his deathbed said, "We can do better than this." When you look around America, and you see the challenges that we face, the political partisanship, the income and opportunity inequality, the technology disruption, the racism, the terrorism, the civil unrest, the $20 trillion of deficit that we face as a country, it can feel overwhelming. It can seem overwhelming, but these are real challenges that we face as a people, as a society.
I think it's easy to see the world the way that Dr. Seuss did, and that is that we can do better than this. And I believe that if we work together, we will do better than this. Graduates, you've accomplished so much. Today is a day to celebrate your wonderful, hard fought achievement. Tomorrow is about what you will do with it. Congratulations, and thank you very much. [Applause]
On Saturday, July 15, 2017, the Kim B. Clark Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and the Founder of the Christensen Institute, Clayton M. Christensen delivered the WGU Summer 2017 Commencement Address. This commencement was held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Scott Pulsipher: I'm pleased to introduce Clayton M. Christensen. Our commencement speaker today Professor Christensen is Kim B. Clark professor of business administration at Harvard Business
School and founder of the Christensen Institute. Often regarded as one of the world's top experts and on innovation and growth, Christensen introduced the theory of disruptive innovation. He has long been supported of WGU and the University's learning model. Please welcome Clayton Christensen.
I'm honored to be with you today. As I have tried to prepare my remarks I realized that you and I have a lot in common. I was raised in Rose Park on the right side of the tracks in Salt Lake City. I went to West High School and graduated from there. At age 38 with four kids I lost my job. And I was at a point in my life where I just needed to support my family better than we had before. And so I went back to school hoping that it would lead me to a new career as a teacher. You have had a lot of responsibility in caring for your family as you serve -- as you study here. And I have a family that I needed to care for as well. But, oh, my gosh, I am so grateful that I went to school again to get a better job and to be able to support my family in a better way. And so we do have a lot in common.
I'd like to talk with you a bit today about smallness and bigness in mankind. In my profession my job is to identify questions and puzzles and paradoxes that have net yet been resolved. And my job has been to resolve them as best I can. One of the questions that I posed at the beginning was I wonder why success is so hard to sustain. So if you look across the sweep of business history most companies, which at one point were widely regarded as unassailable successful. A decade or two later you find them in the middle of the pack and often at the bottom of the he. So the puzzle was, what makes it success so hard to sustain at the level of corporations as well as individuals?
And I came to a strange conclusion and that is what causes successful companies or people to fail is they have a small view of mankind, not a big view. And they look at the entities that are big and successful and try to emulate them. In the end, however, it's really the people that start with small problems that grow, that become successful.
So, for example, a number of years ago a company called New Core made a plant, you see it on the west hand side of the road as you go north near Tree Mountain. And they had a new technology for making steel. They could bring scrap, melt it and reform it into shapes. And the only product that they could make in the beginning was rebar that is used to build or inside of cement when you're building structures.
There was another company in Utah called U.S. Steel, they had a huge plant in Geneva and the people at U.S. Steel looked down at New Core and their new technology and all they could do was make rebar, which is at the low end, and it made no sense to them. And so they ignored it. But New Core instead began making small products and simple ideas and then they made it better and better and better. And as they got ever more capable, the reaction of U.S. Steel was still not to look at them down market, but rather to try to see if they could make even bigger steel for even bigger people and ultimately New Core has been wildly successful by looking at the bottom of the market as a platform to grow.
Some of you know a company called Toyota. When I was in high school and college Toyota was invading north America, but they invaded had north America, not with Lexusses, but with a rusty subcompact called a Corona. What they did is they made a car so affordable and successful that the low end of humanity, people we call college students, could own a car. And while Toyota was starting at the bottom of the market, General Motors forwarded a different view of success. That is we had to make bigger cars for bigger people. They looked at Toyota coming from below and it made no sense to pay attention to them. Toyota went from a Corona to a Corolla Tercel, Camry, Avalon, 4-runners, Sequoia, and then the Lexus, yet General Motors and Ford framing goodness of success couldn't see it coming until its all over.
This is what I mean by the smallness of mankind, the view that we will only be success if we are better than them. And a much better way to view mankind is I might be better than them at one point, but what's different is they want to improve to get better. And taking that view, they might be good, but we want to grow and we want to be better makes a different view of mankind.
That brings a very different view of mankind that a bigness of mankind and the premise is very different. We might look at a person who seems to be better than I am, they know more than we do, but that wasn't always so when we were born we were all the same. And other people might have learned earlier than we, but if they learn it, we can learn it too, And we need to view our success not as a static view, but rather a dynamic view. If I can't do something, it doesn't condemn me to being mediocre in the rest of my life, rather it just gives me an opportunity to learn.
At age 38 I learned how to be do research and to be a teacher. You guys at the same age have learned how to be accountants and nurses and engineers and business people and I congratulate you. If you keep thinking about the view of mankind that it's a dynamic view, that you can spend the rest of your life doing better and better, you will give -- you will bless mankind in many ways.
Another element of the bigness of mankind that I think is important is that learning is not as static event, but rather learning is something we hot to do for the rest of our lives and it isn't even tailing just focusing on us to learn and be skilled, but rather it requires that we teach each other and help each other as they try to learn because as we teach, we learn and I think an important element of the business model here is that we help each other to be better.
Another thing that's important for me as I look at the bigness of mankind is that this is God's view of mankind as well. God did not envision that some of us would be bolted to the floor of mankind, unable to succeed while others have flexibility and upward mobility. That's not God's view of mankind at all. His view is in the bigness of mankind that what we can become what he is and he's given that potential to every one of us. That's why it's so important that we keep learning. He envisions that each of us can know what he knows.
Now as you can see with this color I live in traditional higher education at a university called Harvard. I'm grateful that I work there. It's a good school. But we have a smallness view of mankind. The minute you get the ACC or the GRE, it determines whether you can come and join us or you can't. We keep score. We figure out what is the average GRE for the students who go to Stanford and Yale and all of these other lesser known schools. And we have to keep score because if we have bigger scores, we're better than them and in order to succeed we have to be better than others. But that's not what bigness is about in any way. We need to help everybody keep learning for the rest of their lives so that we all can become the people thank God wants us to become.
And all of the University's that I know of who have taken success come to the view of the smallness of mankind there is one big exception and that is western governors. Everything I feel with you is based upon the bigness of mankind. Everything that I feel is that it's dynamic. It's not static. People can learn for the rest of their lives. Many of you like I can choose to take a different career and halfway through and bring happiness to our families. And so I give my honest congratulations and gratitude to so many of the people here who have sacrificed so much to create this marvel lust university. Now, if you wouldn't mind I'd like to
close by telling you how I learned about the bigness of mankind.
One day a number of years ago I was driving to school and about 6:00 a.m. all of a sudden I had a feeling in my mind and in my heart that something important is going to happen to me clay Christensen and there was no specificity about what that was, but it was a very clear feeling that I was going to be given a responsibility in the not too distant future. And so as I continued to drive to work, I wondered what might that be. And then a couple of weeks later there was an announcement that somebody in my field was going to leave their employment and I put two and two together and realized they are going to give that to me. And so I started to prepare myself and figured out what else I would want to put into place and who I would ask to work with me. And then when the time came to announce who the person was they chose another person and not me. And I wondered why in the world would they have done that to me. Because I looked at my resume versus his, there was no question that I was better. And it put me on a -- I just couldn't figure out what had gone wrong with me. And then after about two Missouris of trying to figure it out, I had an important insight and that is thank God doesn't hire any accountants in heaven. And what I mean by that is you and I because we have finite minds we have to aggregate in order to understanding what's going on.
So in companies that I'm affiliated with we send out invoices and we receive invoices, many times every day. And we can't keep track of all of the individual data in each of these invoices and so thank goodness we have accountants and they can add up all of those numbers and give us a single number that allows us to say we're doing better or we're doing worse. Because we have limited minds, we need numbers and we have to aggregate things in order to give a sense of what's going on.
We have a sense because we aggregate that the world is organized in a hierarchical way so that people who aspire, they are responsible for bigger numbers are more important in an organization than people who are responsible for smaller numbers. But then I realize thank God has an infinite mind and because of his capability he didn't -- god doesn't have to aggregate people and turn those into numbers in order though understand completely what's going on in this world because he has an infinite mind he doesn't need to count us as numbers. Then I realized, oh, my gosh, so if that means thank God only looks at people and not numbers, when I die, and I have my interview with him, he's not going to say to me oh, my goodness, the important professor Clayton Christiansen from the Harvard Business School, God's not going to say that. Instead what he's going to say to me is all right, Clay, do you remember I put you in this situation.
Can we just talk about what you did to help those people that you were with to become better people. And then if you remember I put you in this situation and let's talk about the people there that you helped to become better people. And then if you remember I gave you 5 wonderful children. Let's talk about what you did to help them become better people. And I realized thank God will measure my life by the individual people who I helped to become better people. That's the way he will measure my life. And when I realized that, I realized that I need every day to find opportunities to help people that I work with and study with to become better people because that is the way God will measure my life.
And I want to congratulate you first to the faculty because you have such great opportunity to help the people that you work with to be better people. And you students who have worked to help the people that you work with to become better people. You have chosen magnificent professions. And I thank you. God bless you. I pray thank God will be with you as you try to become bigger and bigger and better and better people. Thank you. [Applause]
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb addressed graduates at the WGU 2017 regional commencement, hosted by WGU Indiana. The commencement ceremony was held in Indianapolis, Indiana. WGU Indiana Chancellor, Dr. Allison Barber introduces Governor Holcomb. And WGU President, Scott Pulsipher closes the video.
Poetic Voice, and the CEO/Founder of Sekou World, Inc., Sekou Andrews addressed graduates at the February 2018 WGU Bachelor's Commencement Ceremony.
This regional commencement was held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
Poetic Voice, and the CEO/Founder of Sekou World, Inc., Sekou Andrews addressed graduates at the February 2018 WGU Master's Commencement Ceremony.
This regional commencement was held in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.