The Cs of tranquility

Commencement speakers Hesburgh and Hearn call grads to live lives of competence, compassion, commitment, community

Nearly 1,300 undergraduates and graduate students received diplomas in commencement exercises on May 17. Educator and humanitarian the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh told graduates to carry the three Cs — competency, compassion, and commitment — into their new lives.

Hesburgh, president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, said graduates are entering a world which moves so quickly that unless they keep on learning, they won’t be competent ten years from now. Compassion, he said, is a little more complicated. “It’s not enough just to have compassion when you see suffering. that won’t do it in your life, because with compassion there has to go a third C, commitment. Compassion is not worth a hoot, nor is competence, if it’s not used with commitment.”

Hesburgh, who received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree, served as Notre Dame’s president for more than thirty-five years. During that time he held fourteen presidential appointments, the most recent as a director of the United States Institute of Peace. He was a charter member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson. His 1990 autobiography, God, Country, Notre Dame, became a national bestseller.

Citing the University’s motto, Pro Humanitate, President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. told graduates they are all sons and daughters of the human family, more alike than they are unalike. “There is a universal humanity, and there is hope for the commonality in the human community here and around the world,” said Hearn. “On this day of commencing there is no message from Wake Forest to its alumni more pertinent than to summon your faith and your commitment to overcoming the barriers of difference and division toward the building of the human community.”

Jane Freeman Crosthwaite (’59), associate professor of religion at Mount Holyoke College, delivered the baccalaureate sermon on May 16.

In addition to Hesburgh, those receiving honorary degrees were:

  • James K. Glenn, former general partner of Quality Oil, doctor of laws;
  • Shogo Sasaki, dean emeritus of the Tokai University School of Medicine, doctor of science;
  • Paule Marshall, novelist and professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, doctor of letters;
  • LeRoy T. Walker, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and chancellor emeritus of North Carolina Central University, doctor of laws.

Published in Wake Forest Magazine.