The Colgate Scene
July 2004

"One sees clearly from the heart"

[Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

President Rebecca Chopp made the following remarks at the university's 183rd commencement.

In their four years at Colgate, our wonderful graduates experienced enormous change, both on campus and in the world. But in common with all of our alumni, their experiences in the classroom, in their residences, and in their activities gave them a complete education, an education of the whole person, that carries with it great opportunity and great responsibility.

Colgate's education is an education of the mind, the body, and of the heart. The heart is, of course, a metaphor for a set of virtues: compassion, understanding, gratitude, respect, justice, integrity. At Colgate, what you have studied and how you have lived mingle, inextricably, together to provide you an education of the heart. Michael Wolk '60, with whom you share honors today, is one of the country's leading cardiologists -- he understands hearts very well. Several months ago, Dr. Wolk gave a convocation address to the American College of Cardiology, of which he is president. Dr. Wolk began his speech this way: "In one of my favorite books, the wonderful and wise The Little Prince, author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry reveals an important secret of life. `One sees clearly only with the heart.' The little prince learns, `Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.'" What you do in life after Colgate is important, but it is who you are that matters most to us. We know you will be successful in what you do: that's what it means to be a Colgate alum! But we also care for how you live and who you are. A liberal arts education prepares you for better living; it also prepares you to live better.

Living with heart means living with responsibility. I know it is not a fashionable term; I know in today's world we often think of what we are due, owed, can get, will achieve. But a liberal arts education is about taking seriously your responsibility for making the world a better place. Colgate's founding tradition is that thirteen men with thirteen dollars and thirteen prayers felt responsible to their society to create a school to train men (and, much later, women) for the common good. The honorary degree recipients with us today are models -- heroes and "sheroes" -- of living responsibly within, and for, the world: Stephen Burke '80, a business leader renowned for his ethical practices and relationships as well as his business success; Catherine Bertini who has accepted responsibility for feeding the hungry on a massive scale in more than 100 countries; John Mbiti, leading African theologian who has responded to the need for a truly African Christian theology; John McGahern, acclaimed Irish novelist, who has enlightened us all with the courage and compassion of his writing; and Michael Wolk, who knows that living with heart means, always, living responsibly.

The world needs Colgate graduates, desperately. In banking, in law, in graduate school, in the arts and letters, in politics, in science, in service, in teaching: the world needs you to respond to its needs as well as to its opportunities. Be responsible in your jobs and to your families, take care of your communities and the earth, use all that you have learned here and use how you have learned to think to live responsibly and to improve the common good. Respond -- to those around you and those far away. Respond to Colgate. Live with heart. Remember the Little Prince: "One sees clearly with the heart. All that is essential is invisible to the eyes."

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