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Commencement Remarks by Charles Mooney, Chair of the Faculty Senate, May 17, 2004

Challenges: Service and Honesty

It is my distinct honor to stand before you, the Class of 2004, as a representative of the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. On my colleagues' behalf, I offer you our congratulations, our praise, and our highest hopes for your future happiness and success.

I also offer you our thanks. We thank you because without you, our students, we the faculty would not have a university. Indeed, without you, we would not be faculty. Now, some of us might find other means of supporting our habits of research and scholarship, but without you, our students, our personal, professional, and intellectual lives would be much diminished. We thank you for your time here and your role in making Penn the institution of excellence that it is.

Now, having congratulated, praised, and thanked you, I wish to issue two challenges.

The first challenge is that of service.  I refer to service to your community, your country, or whatever piece of the world may attract your attention. This challenge is consistent with honoring today our principal speaker, Paul 'Bono' Hewson. As Bono has given back much, I challenge you to do the same. Some of you will find yourselves in "public service" or "public interest" positions. Many of you will not. But to all of you I express my hope that you will seek out ways to make some part of the world a better place. I need not make specific suggestions because the opportunities are vast. As Sir Francis Bacon wrote, "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds."

Now for my second challenge; I challenge you to be honest. Honesty entails not only observing legal restrictions and duties, but truthfulness as well. Every day in the news we observe stories of fallen angels in business, in sports, in the professions, and in government. I do not need to mention names; each of you can come up with instant examples.

Every one of you will experience misfortune in some way at some time. In many cases important life experiences, and events will be shaped by forces that are not within your control. But your integrity is exclusively within your control and power. As I have told my students at the Law School in every course that I have taught in the 18 years since I arrived at Penn, your integrity, including your reputation for honesty and truthfulness, are your most valuable personal and professional assets. Once lost, these assets likely are lost forever. William Shakespeare put it well in his play, All's Well that Ends Well, "no legacy is so rich as honesty."

Finally, I offer one more bit of advice. It was given in a commencement speech by Katherine Ortega when she was Treasurer of the United States.  She said, "In time you will meet up with other people who think they have all the answers. These people are called bosses. My advice is: Humor them."

In closing, on behalf of the faculty I wish you the very best. And, speaking only for myself, God bless you.



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 34, May 25, 2004