May 14, 2016
SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 14, 2016 — Drury University awarded degrees to 543 graduates at its spring commencement ceremonies today. There were 245 undergraduate degrees and 45 graduate degrees conferred at the traditional Day School ceremony, and 268 degrees conferred during a ceremony for the College of Continuing Professional Studies. Some students earned multiple degrees.
Economics professor Dr. Bill Rohlf, who retires this month after 44 years teaching at Drury, addressed the graduates at the day’s first ceremony. To the surprise of no one who has been a student of Rohlf’s, he began his address the same way he has begun his classes for more than 40 years: by asking the question, “Is everybody happy?”
“Today, I was pretty confident as to what the answer would be,” Rohlf said.
Rohlf told the graduates that while their days of taking tests were over, their trials and challenges would not cease. “Economists love to ruin your day,” he joked.
He then urged the graduates to be diligent and work hard on improving themselves by repeating another familiar phrase: “Do your homework.” Learning is a never-ending process, he said, and every turn, every role, every success and failure has something to offer a lifelong learner. That first job may not be perfect, he said, but it’s valuable nonetheless.
Dr. Bill Rohlf
“Every job has something to teach you if you’re willing to learn, and if you work at it and do your homework,” he said. Rohlf said today’s graduates should be confident that the skills and habits they take with them will carry them through a varied career and fulfilling life.
“The education you’ve received here at Drury is on par with the best education you can get anywhere,” he said. “I’ve talked with alums for 40 years, and they’ve all talked about how well prepared they were for the job market.”
In the second ceremony, for CCPS graduates, speaker David R. Mercer also spoke of homework. Mercer, a Drury alumnus, lawyer, humanitarian and current adjunct professor for the university, posed three questions to the graduates. “Your final homework assignment, if you will,” he said.
In the spirit of learning from the past, planning for the future and living for today, Mercer urged the graduates to ask themselves these questions daily: “Today, will I love those around me?” “Today, will I pursue a cause that is greater than myself?” And, “Today, will I be driven by a passion in my life?”
Mercer urged the graduates to find the point where their learned skills, natural talents and personal passions intersect. Aim for that point first and foremost, he told them, rather than for a lucrative salary or position of prestige.
“Each one of us has a sweet spot in which the entirety of who you are as a person comes together,” Mercer said. “Find it, and spend your days there.”
Today’s ceremonies were the last for retiring president Dr. David Manuel. Lyle Reed, chair of the Board of Trustees, recognized Manuel and his wife, Betty Coe. Reed thanked both for their dedication to Drury and its students during their tenure. Banners were hung on Drury Lane designating it as “Dr. & Mrs. Manuel Lane” during commencement week.
Information about attached photos: Commencement speakers Dr. Bill Rohlf, Mr. David Mercer, and photos of Day School graduates.