A day for dreams

The real world, according to Tom Clancy, is largely a trap, and the only thing that keeps people from falling into that trap is their dreams.

Clancy, a former insurance agent turned bestselling author of technothrillers such as The Hunt for Red October, addressed the Class of 1992 under sunny blue skies May 18 on the main plaza. It was the largest commencement in University history with more than 1,200 graduates from the College and the professional schools of law, medicine and management.

Clancy urged graduates to never let go of their dream, for if they held on to it for life they would get old, but not be old. “Nothing is as real as a dream,” he said. “The world can change around you but your dream will not.

“Up until now the focus of your life has been learning,” Clancy said. “Now the focus of your life is on doing. After the gentle responsibilities of the last 16 years, you will soon enter a profession where someone will depend on you. You will add a spouse to share your burden and add to those responsibilities. And you will have children and experience the most crushing of responsibilities. Your childhood will end with the beginning of another.”

Clancy, a graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore, received an honorary doctor of letters degree, as did:

  • Penelope E. Niven (MA ’62), biographer of poet Carl Sandburg, doctor of letters;
  • Rev. F. Sue Fitzgerald, director of the Center for Christian Education Ministries at Mars Hill College, who delivered the baccalaureate sermon in Wait Chapel on May 17, doctor of divinity;
  • J. Gordon Hanes, arts patron and former CEO of Hanes Corporation, doctor of laws;
  • and James C. Hunt (MD ’53), vice president for health affairs at the University of Tennessee, doctor of science.

President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. presided over the commencement ceremony and in his charge to the graduates said that not all questions have answers, and that no important question has an easy answer.

“If we have taught you well, your days will contain moments of contemplation about nature and nature’s god, human nature and its destiny, and even the structure of the cosmos itself,” Hearn said. “The nature of education is not so much to know as to be a seeker of truth.”

Above all, Hearn said, graduates must see themselves as partners in the enterprise of being human, a destiny that begins at commencement. “The commitment of Wake Forest to our purpose for you and your purpose in the world is upon the seal of your diploma: Pro Humanitate,” he said. “May that motto be sealed upon your mind and heart and guide you in the exciting pilgrimage which lies ahead.”

Provost David G. Brown and Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Richard Janeway read citations honoring retiring faculty members from the Reynolda and Hawthorne campuses, respectively. Retiring are:

  • Wilmer Sanders, profesor of German and Russian;
  • Van Wagstaff, professor of economics;
  • Raymond Wyatt, professor of biology;
  • James Sizemore, professor of law;
  • and Augustin Formanek, professor of radiology.

Published in Wake Forest Magazine.