Let’s just say that my first commencements at the University of Rhode Island will always be a special time in my life. Beginning with the 50th reunion for the class of 1960 and the dinner for our honorary degree recipients on Saturday night, the weekend was full of traditions and celebrations that made a lasting impression – not just on me and Lynn, but on everyone we met.
URI’s commencement ceremonies were a powerful and inspirational reminder of the most important outcome of the University’s work: the young (and some not quite so young) people who are better prepared and empowered to pursue their dreams. They are now in a much stronger position to help create a brighter future for themselves, for Rhode Island, for our nation, and for the world. They are more capable, and in many cases, more dedicated to transforming our world to make it a better place. Their time at the University of Rhode Island, learning with our faculty, with each other, and with the many partners who work with URI, will pay off extremely well – not solely for them, but also for our society. Indeed, the education they received at URI will have a substantial, significant, and lasting impact, extending even to generations that follow the class of 2010.
I am reminded that this was a point forcefully made by the Chairman of the Rhode Island Board of Governors for Higher Education, the Honorable Judge Frank Caprio, during his testimony before the House Finance Committee. There are no other investments that the State of Rhode Island can make that will have the enormously beneficial and lasting impact than their investment in education, especially higher education. As the state once again prepares its budget in the midst of difficult financial times, I hope that they remember that it is past time that the state takes concrete steps to improve the lives and futures of the people of Rhode Island. Investing in and supporting higher education and the University of Rhode Island is a critical and essential step to recreating a vibrant and sustainable future for our state.