Editors note: At a special ceremony for first-generation college graduates at Tufts University, James Glaser, dean of the school of arts and sciences, gave a commencement speech comprised entirely of questions. The slightly edited text of the speech is as follows:
What if I told you that because a university is a place of questions – and hopefully some answers – that I have decided to give my remarks to you entirely in the interrogative? Is this OK with you?
- Are you better off now than you were four years ago?
- What has happened in these four years? How much has changed?
- Did you experience great success? Did you experience failure, and if so, did you learn from it?
- Did it take perseverance, resilience, grit and a few all-nighters to get here?
- Did you become more civically involved? Were you able to connect what you learned outside the classroom with what you learned inside the classroom?
- Have you looked at any of the work you did the first year and said “Oh my God!”?
- Did we encourage you to question authority?
- Did you meet someone special? Would you believe that my 5’1″ sister met her 5’4″ husband in a short story class? Have you made lifelong friends?
- Through your years in college, have you become more independent and confident and wise? And have you come to appreciate your parents and families more?
- Do you have gratitude for some of the staff and faculty who have taught you and mentored you and guided you?
- Toward the future, will you keep in touch? Will you make a difference in whatever large or small way you are able?
- Ladies and gentlemen, will you please join me in congratulating our students upon their graduation?