Speeches & Commentary

2019 Commencement

Thank you, Chancellor Wrighton, for your introduction.  Members of the Class of 2019, I have to be honest. I feel a little bit like Paul McCartney right now as I channel one of the Beatles’ most famous lines, “You say Goodbye, and I say Hello.”

For some of you, that joke might have gotten lost in the generational gap.  But it’s true. You’re leaving this place, and I’m just beginning my role as your 15th Chancellor.  Because I wasn’t here for most of your time on campus, I haven’t earned the privilege to impart a lot of wisdom.  To that end, all I really want to say is:


During your time at Washington University, you have worked and studied hard.  You have conducted innovative and collaborative research. You have served in the community. You have traveled the globe.  You have engaged in dialogues across differences. You have become leaders of your organizations and clubs. You have led your teams to victory.  You have made lifelong friends and mentors. You have developed the skills and tools you need to succeed in life beyond “the WashU bubble.”

Beyond that, you embody wisdom, integrity, humility, compassion, empathy, citizenship, and much more.  You are knowledge-gainers, truth-seekers, truth-speakers, problem-solvers, change-inspirers, and values-oriented leaders.

You ARE Washington University! 

As your 15th Chancellor and as an alumnus of Washington University, I am extremely proud to call you distinguished alumni — members of a strong and global network of individuals who are making a real difference in this region and around the world.  I am thrilled to be here to witness this moment. And I am excited about the opportunity to work with you as alumni and watch you become the local, national, and global leaders we have helped prepare you to be.

So…to once again channel Paul McCartney, it’s not actually, “Goodbye.”  Your WashU journey doesn’t end here. In fact, we call it Commencement because it’s just beginning.  As your next Chancellor, my greatest hope is that you will always carry WashU with you wherever you go, that you will come back and say “Hello” to us often, and that you will find success wherever your WashU journey takes you.

Congratulations again on such an enormous achievement, and best of luck as you take WashU with you into the world.