Butler University Commencement speakers Brad Stevens and Rear Admiral Elaine Wagner ’76 advised the 903 members of the Class of 2014 to find solid values to live by and to share their success with others, respectively. Videos of both speakers and other Commencement highlights can be viewed here.

Rear Adm. Elaine Wagner '76

Rear Adm. Elaine Wagner ’76

“This is your day. Enjoy it,” Wagner said at the May 10 ceremonies in the Butler Bowl. “But, it’s not just your day. It also belongs to the people who helped you get here … parents, sibling, coaches, teachers,” she added. “We all stand on the shoulders of the people who helped us.”

“At one point in the future, you need to be one of those people. You need to reach down or behind you, and pull someone up, “ she said. “The sweetest part of my success is being able to share it with others.”

A decorated U.S. Navy officer, Wagner has served in medical and dentistry commands around the world. She is currently Deputy Chief of Wounded, Ill, and Injured for the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery in Virginia.

Stevens, who served as head coach of Butler men’s basketball from 2007–2013, said he was “intrinsically motivated to check boxes, get results” before he came to Butler.

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

“I would study enough to pass a test, get the grade or the job, then move on,” he said. “At Butler, I learned the value of learning, growing. I became a learner, instead of a box checker.”

Stevens recalled Butler Athletic Director Barry Collier’s focus on core values and standards, prominently displayed on campus signs. He suggested that graduates “learn how powerful standards can be to making decisions, and making your organization the best it can be.”

He told the graduates to be “energy givers, not energy takers,” to not let circumstances control their attitudes, and to figure out what’s important to getting a task accomplished, then practice it daily.

“The magic is in the work,” he said.

Now head coach of the Boston Celtics, Stevens led the Bulldogs to consecutive NCAA Final Four® games in 2010 and 2011. Many of Saturday’s graduates were first-year students during the second championship runs.

University President James M. Danko congratulated members of the Class of 2014 on their achievements in academics, campus leadership, experiential learning, and service.

“You’ve applied your knowledge, your time, and your talent for the benefit of others,” Danko said. “I know that you’ll make a meaningful impact in the world.”

Faculty speaker Deborah Skinner, Associate Professor of Marketing in the College of Business, told graduates to “look in the mirror” and believe in themselves, no matter the tests thrown at them by life.

“You’ve worked hard to complete your degree. You have what it takes to succeed at anything, anywhere at any time,” she said. “I encourage you to take a selfie today. That can be your mirror for those times of self-doubt, a handy tool to help you believe.”

Michael Keller ’14, President of the Senior Class, asked his fellow graduates to “be hopeful for the future,” despite the world’s problems, and to dedicate themselves to “making it a better place.” 

Courtney Foye ’14, Vice President of the Senior Class, encouraged her classmates to “Go travel the world. Go without forgetting your roots.”

“You are officially Butler-branded,” she said.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson