Eakin delivers fall 2000 commencement address
(Dec. 9, 2000)
In his last graduation ceremony as the Chancellor of East Carolina University, Dr. Richard Eakin offered inspiration and advice to the 2,400 graduates at ECU's fall commencement on Saturday, Dec. 9.
"You are graduates of one of the finest universities in the nation," said Eakin, who will retire early in 2001. "Your education and your university will stand you in good stead around the nation and even the world."
He recalled how he noticed an "aura of negativism in the air" when he came to ECU 14 years ago and said this negativism took the form of an inferiority complex.
"Let the record be set straight on this matter," he said. "We are not second or third rate. We must first recognize that truth and then we must stop our self-deprecating rhetoric. To be tall you must stand tall. Take pride in your university. It is worthy of your pride."
The chancellor offered his personal insights on things that he has learned during his 36-year career in higher education. He said: Intelligence is a valuable commodity whose value is only fully realized through old-fashioned hard work. There is no substitute in a marriage for the liberal use of two words; "yes, dear." When faced with the choice between honesty and expediency, be honest. There is no more liberating experience than a top-down ride in a convertible. The first job out of college should be selected with care, but with the knowledge that it is not likely to determine the destiny of a career. The stock market is not for the faint of heart. Friends are a blessing, but it is family that sustains us. Dimples are good on babies and bad on ballots. Tastes in food become more and more sophisticated, but ice cream remains as soothing and delicious as it was the day you had your tonsils out. Most people have good hearts and consciously or innately practice the golden rule. The more experience you have, the greater your realization of the limits of your knowledge. Faith is the underpinning of any truly successful venture. Whether we wish for it or not, each of us will have a real and lasting effect on the lives of others, even those in generations to come. The admonition to say or write nothing that you wouldn't want quoted on the front page of The New York Times has great merit. A sense of humor is important, but the capacity to laugh at oneself is essential. Peace is better than war, honor surpasses deceit, and love overcomes hate.
It was ECU's 92nd commencement and was Chancellor Eakin's first commencement address on campus. The ceremony was held in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum.