Greetings, and welcome to the graduates, to my faculty and staff colleagues, to other University of Iowa students, to family and friends, and to honored guests. It is my great pleasure to share with you this once-in-a-lifetime occasion. Many people have made this day possible. Out there in the audience are parents, grandparents, husbands, wives, partners, significant others, children, brothers, sisters, and many other relatives and friends of the graduates. We thank you, too—everyone here who has made this day possible!
Four years ago, we revived an annual tradition of an opening convocation on the Pentacrest lawn to begin the academic year. Many of you here today were there as first-year students, yet to begin your college career. Today, that welcome and orientation program for first-year students has grown into a number of events under the umbrella title of “On Iowa!” For those of you who have attended football games, basketball games, or some other athletic or university events, you’ll know that “On Iowa!” is also the title of one of our three main Hawkeye spirit songs.
I love all of our Iowa songs, but “On Iowa!” carries a special message. It’s a song that reflects both Iowa’s traditions and its forward-looking vision. So it seems to me appropriate to invoke this rousing tune both as our first-year students come in and as our graduating seniors commence onward.
If you don’t know the words, the “On Iowa” song says, “A heritage to us you did unfold,” which “makes us proud for what you stand, our dear Old Gold.” And it urges, “On, Iowa, proudly at the fore,/On, Iowa, on forever more.” You came into the university with a long, proud heritage behind you and supporting you—a heritage that has stood for innovation and discovery for over 165 years, from the far reaches of space exploration to the inner creativity of the writer’s mind. And now today, you are proudly moving forward and beyond the university’s walls. You are proudly at the fore, ready to shape the future of our society and forge a new University of Iowa legacy through your own achievements.
What I like most about the “On Iowa” song, though, is its final words: “On, Iowa, on forever more.” Those words remind me that, although we are saying good-bye to you today, you will always be part of our Hawkeye spirit and our Iowa legacy—forever. We really hate to see you go, but we also know that you will always be part of us. And, of course, we dearly hope that you will come back home to us often. We will be waiting for you—forever more.
Congratulations once again to you all—on your path hard-traveled, on your achievements well-earned, and on your future brightly lit. And thank you, as graduates of this magnificent institution, for being—once and always—proud to be an Iowa Hawkeye!