Remarks of Robert Gard

President Kevin, members of the Faculty, and trustees: I very much appreciate this high honor, thank you.

I would like to congratulate the candidates for graduate degrees and certificates, especially those of you who were fully employed while pursuing demanding, project-based curricula. This most certainly is not an easy accomplishment.

To the college seniors graduating today, congratulations on your choice of Marlboro for your undergraduate education.

As one of the relatively few genuinely community-based liberal arts colleges, Marlboro offers the optimum educational preparation for dealing with the rapid economic and social changes you inevitably will face in the future. A liberal arts education also establishes the best foundation for incalculable enrichment of your future lives.

Especially noteworthy is Marlboro’s demanding Plan of Concentration which requires study in depth. This opens windows into the complexity and nuances of issues that the more typical sequence of survey courses does not. Study in depth also prepares you well for graduate study; and even more importantly, it provides a solid foundation for effective self-directed life-long learning that will be essential to your future success.

While probably a cause for some complaint, you undoubtedly also will be grateful in the future for Marlboro’s requirement to develop effective communication skills, especially clear, concise and correct writing. Be assured that this is an absolutely critical—but unfortunately scarce—skill that will continue to be in high demand.

Finally, in the interest of mandated brevity, I will offer only one admonition to all the graduates: try to make time to include an element of service in your future lives. Not only will service give you a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, but, believe it or not, it also provides other valuable benefits. Multiple studies with large international samples have determined conclusively that positive social relationships in civic engagement contribute significantly to one’s mental, and even physical, health, and longevity. 

Don’t ever believe that the scope and magnitude of poverty and injustice are so great that what you can do about them doesn’t matter. Improving the life of a single human being is a meaningful contribution. So let me urge you to foster a sense of purpose by becoming involved in causes in which you believe.

Now that I am well into my 89th year, I can verify the wisdom of Sophocles’ observation that “Nobody loves life like an aging man.” So permit me to paraphrase the advertisements that you hear on television: Service works for me; and I’m confident it will be of great benefit and value to you.

Congratulations to all the graduates; and best wishes for success, and for happy and fulfilling lives, in the years ahead.