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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Honors Convocation (speech: Central Washington University)

Central Washington University
June 13, 1986

Several years ago, Pierre Elliot Trudeau stated, “A society which eulogizes the average citizen is a society which breeds mediocrity.”  Tonight is one of those occasions at which we at Central say to the average citizen: “Stay away. This is not your time.” This is a special time that we at Central set aside for the exclusive use for the superior among us. It is a time of reflective celebration, before that great assembly tomorrow when all come forward and all are seated. A time of reflective celebration when we say to a select few in our academic community, “Well done, colleague.”

Pierre Trudeau always seemed to understand that sooner or later the people of Canada would no longer accept his incessant striving for excellence for himself and the Canadian people. Several years ago the Canadians tired of him and turned him out of office as Prime minister. The same lack of acceptance, in your case of academic superiority, has often been your burden to carry. You would not be honored tonight, however, if you had let that pressure level your sights to common achievement.

Your excellence cannot be explained by the recognition that this state or this university bestows on you. These ceremonies area genuine attempt to show our appreciation. But even though our efforts are sincere and real, they are inadequate. Because the rewards are rather meager for such outstanding individual performances, the performance is all the more special because the effort is generated inside of you – driven by your own special sense of calling. More often than not, the achievement must also be the reward! But still you do need to know that others, are aware of your commitment, and this is the time to publically, parade our awareness of your accomplishments.

You should also know, perhaps a more mundane measure, that our admission statistics and our reports to various legislative committees this year have continued to testify to outside observers that Central is on the steepest ascent of any public university in this state. And you folks have played, and continue to play, a major role in that climb. That doesn’t mean that we aren’t awfully darn good right now or that we don’t have areas that need work, but your splendid contribution and effort is one of the animating forces for recognition of this particular Washington State university. The entire university community is indebted to you because of your work.

This occasion continues to be a high point in the academic year for us on the Board. To be able to stand and publicly congratulate and thank you, is a personal honor.

Honorees, congratulations and thank you!

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