sealPurdue News

May 10, 2002

Purdue president emphasizes service in commencement speech

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue President Martin C. Jischke this weekend (Friday, 5/10 through Sunday, 5/12) told new graduates they have an obligation to fulfill their destiny and give back to the community.

"One of the central missions of land-grant universities such as Purdue is to teach students their responsibilities to the world around them," Jischke said during the first in a series of commencement addresses. "It is my great hope that Purdue has succeeded in preparing you not only to make a living – but to live a happy, productive life. And the road to that life is service."

Jischke told graduates that Purdue has signed a pledge with 421 other universities in the United States to promote service learning.

"It states in part: 'This country cannot afford to educate a generation that acquires knowledge without ever understanding how that knowledge can benefit society or how to influence democratic decision making.'

"You are among the best and the brightest," Jischke continued. "You can be a catalyst helping to energize this nation."

Jischke emphasized that with opportunity comes responsibility.

"As these diplomas are handed to you, you are receiving more than a recognition," Jischke said. "You are receiving a responsibility. You are receiving a responsibility to volunteer in your communities; to take an active role in the government, political and civic processes. You are receiving a responsibility to participate in parent-teacher organizations, school boards, community councils and commissions, art councils, civic action groups, labor organizations. You are receiving a responsibility to run for public office when you are needed. You are receiving a responsibility to people – to help them overcome hunger and poverty; to help them find opportunity and a better life."

Jischke urged graduates to remember the acts of heroism and service in response to the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

"The images of September 11 still linger in our national consciousness," he said. "Today, you have many opportunities. But the greatest opportunity you have received from your education at Purdue University is the opportunity to serve your fellow men and women. If anyone asks you where the hope of tomorrow begins, tell them: 'It begins with me.'"

This was the 186th commencement at Purdue. Approximately 5,200 students – 4,277 of whom are undergraduates – will be awarded degrees during four ceremonies in the Elliott Hall of Music on the West Lafayette campus. Purdue has more than 323,000 living alumni.

Matthew C. Newton of Vernon Hills, Ill., gave the student response at today's ceremony. Student responses at the other weekend commencement exercises will be given by Jill E. Butler of Indianapolis, Eric Steiner of Berne, Ind., and Brian LeRoy Amos of Granger, Ind. Newton earned a degree in electrical and computer engineering, Butler earned a bachelor's degree in health sciences, Steiner earned a degree in agricultural education and Amos earned a construction management technology degree.

Writer: Marydell Forbes, (765) 496-7704,

Source: Martin C. Jischke (765) 494-9708

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: A copy of the full text of President Jischke's speech is available on the web.

Related Web site:
Purdue University commencement information

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