New Graduate Student Convocation
Sept. 2, 2005
I want to not only welcome the hundreds of graduate students here, but also Dean Janet Weiss, who is beginning the challenging work of leading the Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
I am thrilled to see so many of you here today, because I want you to know just how excited I am about you beginning your graduate studies at Michigan.
The Rackham School of Graduate Studies has extremely high standards, and you have met them. I also know you met the criteria of other outstanding universities, and were offered openings in their graduate programs. You made the right choice, of course, and I thank you for selecting Michigan for this critical stage of your academic career.
I especially want to welcome those students who are with us from other countries. You have traveled a great distance to Ann Arbor, and I hope it begins to soon feel like home.
Janet Weiss, John Godfrey, and I have sat where you now sit, and I believe I speak for all of us when I say that we envy you. You are riding the transition from your successful undergraduate career to the demands and rewards of graduate study, and I suggest you hang on tight. The experience is going to be stimulating, frustrating, mesmerizing and satisfying.
One of the great intellectuals of our time has been Jacques Barzan, whose prolific career includes serving as dean of graduate studies and provost at Columbia University. It was during his time as dean that he made this observation:
“The test and the use of man’s education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind.”
That is what we offer you at Michigan: a place to broaden your mind.
Just as each of you had a different reason for selecting Michigan, Michigan offers something different for everyone here.
Our research and the knowledge we create is second to none, because of our outstanding faculty and the graduate students who have come before you. Our undergraduates, whom many of you will interact with as instructors, are bright, and critical, and ready to challenge you.
And the services offered by the Rackham School are quite remarkable. I have been involved with many graduate programs throughout my career, and none comes close to what we have at Michigan — including this magnificent building and its study halls. If there is a more tranquil building on campus, I’ve yet to find it.
So please, take advantage of all that we offer. I know what happens as you delve deeper and deeper into your studies: You become more insulated, and more isolated. That is part of the attraction of graduate work, of course, but it should not define your world.
I encourage you to step outside your department and your discipline. Take your mind to new places and discover the Michigan Difference. It will make your graduate experience all the more rewarding, and all the more memorable.
You have my best wishes for an extraordinary graduate career. Thank you.