Mark Alan Taggart, Chair of the Faculty
December 16, 2006
Thank you, Chancellor Ballard. Good morning, graduates, families and friends! On behalf of the faculty At East Carolina University, please allow me to extend my heartfelt greetings and congratulations to each and every one of you on this special day!
As a professor of composition, I have celebrated a special moment many times with my students when they have just finished a musical composition. I congratulate them for reaching that “final double bar, ” which is a musical term for the notation that we use at the end of our musical score to inform that the work is complete. The level in which I celebrate this accomplishment with my students is in direct ratio to the efforts and struggles the young composer had to go through in order to complete it. Sometimes it’s just a handshake and a smile, or a pat on the back for a job well done. If the composer struggled more in order to complete the work, I would spring to my feet and do a little dance. On one occasion, after a student completed an especially difficult and complex work, I recall actually leaping onto my desk, grabbing armloads of papers and assignments, flinging them asunder, and singing the “Halleluiah” chorus while doing a gig.
Provost Smith informs me that there are 2,811 of you who have reached that “final double bar” today. Holy cow! This is tremendous! This is a time to dance, sing, and celebrate! If there were a desk up here, I just might repeat my “Halleluiah” performance. But, in the hopes of preserving a little professional comportment, you’re just going to have to imagine me doing this, even though I am dancing “on the inside.”
Returning to my composition students, after our celebration ends, I then inform them that they will need to create a set of parts for their musicians. They will have to set up a rehearsal schedule. They will have to coach their musicians. They will need to make all the necessary preparations in order to have their musical work performed successfully. And, after they’ve finally completed their premiere, I remind them what the friendly folks at Merriam-Webster say, that the word “compose” is a verb. You have to keep doing it! Over and over. One successful double bar does not a career make.
Graduates, let me tell you that the word “educate” is a verb, too. The learning process never stops. We’ve celebrated as you have achieved your goals. You’ve been through much, but your work is only beginning. We hope that we have given you the tools to be inquisitive, creative, and to keep the process of education going! We hope the education you’ve received at East Carolina University will provide a firm foundation for the next phase in your life. And don’t forget to let us know about your continuing successes and accomplishments, your future double bars, because, I just love to dance!