Purdue President to graduates: 'This class has done it all, and done it well'

December 19, 2010

A graduate celebrates with her degree during Sunday's (Dec. 19) commencement ceremony at Elliott Hall of Music. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue President France A. Córdova on Sunday (Dec. 19) spoke of lasting memories that are part of the Purdue experience and encouraged new graduates to follow the examples of past and present successful Boilermakers.

Córdova addressed more than 1,400 graduates during two commencement ceremonies in the Elliott Hall of Music.

"When I came to Purdue a few years ago, I was given a 'bucket list' of 20 things that students said I must do at Purdue," she said. "Hopefully, each of you has fulfilled your own bucket list."

Some moments Córdova mentioned included having a milkshake at Pappy's, cheering with the Paint Crew, taking a cell-phone photo of Nobel Prize winner Ei-ichi Negishi, attending a dramatic play or concert, or sledding down Slayter Hill.

Or it could be one of the many recent special accomplishments such as performing with the "All-American" Marching Band in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, inventing a new biomedical device that will save lives, piloting an airplane out of Purdue Airport, building and racing a solar-powered or electric vehicle, or helping build houses for those in need.

"This class of graduating Purdue students has done it all, and they've done it well," Córdova said, also noting the NCAA champion women's golf team, winners of the Big Ten's first national title in the sport.

She urged graduates to follow guidance from Negishi. Upon the October announcement of his Nobel Prize in chemistry, the professor was asked what advice he would give to young people. He said they should have a dream - the bigger the better - they should pursue their passions and use creativity and originality for exploration.

President France A. Córdova speaks to graduates Sunday (Dec. 19) during a commencement ceremony at Elliott Hall of Music. (Purdue University photo/Andrew Hancock)

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Córdova also encouraged graduates to follow in the footsteps of alumni like Neil Armstrong and Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger by becoming so skilled in their professions that they can make good decisions in difficult circumstances. In November, Armstrong presented the Neil Armstrong Medal of Excellence to the hero pilot.

Córdova also noted Purdue's two World Food Prize winners, professors Philip Nelson (2007) and Gebisa Ejeta (2009), and that this year's class is already making a difference through inventions, creativity and service to humanity.

"Service to others is central to Phil and Gebisa's lives, and it is the core value on which this land-grant institution was founded," she said. "Your class - the class of 2010 - has donated tremendous amounts of time and money to people in need to support our local community and to help those as far away as the Haiti earthquake and Pakistani flood victims. We commend you, and we know you will continue to serve as you go forward in life."

She encouraged graduates to reflect upon the impact made by those at Purdue as they consider their own futures.

"No other graduating class at any other institution will receive advice from a Nobel Prize winner, the "Hero of the Hudson," the first person on the moon and two World Food Prize winners," she said. "No other institution can claim such accomplished individuals as Boilermakers.

"Remember what they said, and you will be successful in life: Find your passion, apply yourself well and have a lofty goal.

"You have something in common with these great Boilermakers. You have all shared in the unforgettable experience that is Purdue."

Writer:  Jim Bush, 765-494-2077, jsbush@purdue.edu

Source:  France A. Córdvova, president@purdue.edu

Commencement photo gallery:

Note to Journalists: The full text of Córdova's speech will be available after Sunday's (Dec. 19) 9:30 a.m. ceremony at https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/general/2010/101219SP-CordovaCommence.html