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William Bowen Gives Best Commencement Speech at Haverford

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 19, 2014 10:01 AM |

Periodically I like to take a break from my standard navigation of our economic landscape to draw attention to more general news or remarks that I believe warrant special recognition.

To that end, I recall the aggressive commentary put forth by Dr. Benjamin Carson at the National Prayer Breakfast (link provides the video of Carson’s “must view” remarks)  in early 2013 when he warned our nation on the dangers of the increasing political correctness that is overtaking our society. If you have not viewed Carson’s remarks, do yourself and your kids a favor and view it with them.

In the footsteps of Carson’s forewarning, not surprisingly we have seen a number of institutions of supposed higher learning allow their commencement speakers to be disinvited by a student body, faculty, and/or outside forces that do not appreciate their views and positions. These institutions include Brandeis, Rutgers, Smith, and Haverford. If this is not the essence of political correctness run amuck, I do not know what is.

Yet hopes springs eternal. 

Haverford replaced its original speaker, Dr. Robert Birgenau of the University of California-Berkeley, with William Bowen, a former president of Princeton University. Leaving little to interpretation, Bowen does all the students — and faculty and administration, as well — at Haverford and every other academic institution a huge public service in stating so succinctly what many a commencement speaker in years past, present, and future have or will overlook.

Bowen speaks from the heart in stating:

“If you expect to agree with commencement speakers on everything, then who will you get to speak? Someone totally boring.”

Does that statement apply to about 95% of commencement speakers each and every year? I would maintain that it applies to most and perhaps all of the commencement speeches I have heard over the years.

Bowen goes a step further, though, in categorizing those students at Haverford who rallied against Birgenau as “immature and arrogant.”

I can imagine that some might view Bowen’s assessment as overly abrasive, but if undergraduate education is intended to prepare students for the real world, then everybody at Haverford should say “thank you” to Bowen for his hard-hitting wisdom. You can read the full text of Bowen’s speech here.

If only every other commencement speaker might be so brief and direct in their remarks, we would all be better off.

Navigate accordingly.

Larry Doyle

Please order a hard copy or Kindle version of my book, In Bed with Wall Street: The Conspiracy Crippling Our Global Economy.

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