In his final commencement as president of Butler University, Bobby Fong advised the Class of 2011 on Saturday to “make good use of your freedom.”
That is, he said: Claim your freedom from received opinion and “live the examined life.”
Claim your freedom from fear of difference. “It can be far too easy and comfortable to spend your life in the company of those who never challenge your beliefs,” Fong told graduates, their family members and friends gathered at Hinkle Fieldhouse.
Claim your freedom from the expectations of others. “Unless you have the courage to pursue your dreams, and those who love you give you the freedom to do so, you will always be living out an agenda set by others,” Fong said.
And live a life of integrity.
“Freedom is a means to larger ends,” he said. “You are freed from the chains of received knowledge, fear of difference, and the expectations of others, but I urge you to consider that true living is in binding yourself in promise to those you love. Such promises, freely given, are the bases of lifelong commitment in marriage, in friendship, in service to community, nation, and the world.”
The University graduated 849 students. Professor of Religion and Philosophy Paul Valliere delivered the faculty address, in which he suggested that the graduates “treat every day as a special day.”
“Hard work, quality work, teamwork and friendship are the values that will take you further,” he said.
Fong, who leaves Butler after 10 years to become president of Ursinus College in Pennsylvania, was granted an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
“Today, in my last commencement as Butler’s president, I say to my fellow graduates, claim your freedom, but make use of it to pursue, in St. Paul’s words, ‘whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute; if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.’”