Editors note: At a special ceremony for first-generation college graduates at Tufts University, James Glaser, dean of the school of arts and sciences, gave a commencement speech comprised entirely of questions. The slightly edited text of the speech is as follows:
What if I told you that because a university is a place of questions – and hopefully some answers – that I have decided to give my remarks to you entirely in the interrogative? Is this OK with you?
Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
What has happened in these four years? How much has changed?
Did you experience great success? Did you experience failure, and if so, did you learn from it?
Did it take perseverance, resilience, grit and a few all-nighters to get here?Tufts University
Did you become more civically involved? Were you able to connect what you learned outside the classroom with what you learned inside the classroom?
Have you looked at any of the work you did first year and said “Oh my God!”?
Did we encourage you to question authority?
Did you meet someone special? Would you believe that my 5’1" sister met her 5’4" husband in a short story class? Have you made lifelong friends?
Through your years in college, have you become more independent and confident and wise? And have you come to appreciate your parents and families more?
Do you have gratitude for some of the staff and faculty who have taught you and mentored you and guided you?
Toward the future, will you keep in touch? Will you make a difference in whatever large or small way you are able?
Ladies and gentlemen, will you please join me in congratulating our students upon their graduation?
James Glaser does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Authors: James Glaser, Professor, Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences, Tufts University