Accomplishments will flow naturally from the talents, training and motivation of Vanderbilt graduates, said Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos at the Vanderbilt Commencement ceremony on Friday. Happiness is a trickier proposition, he said, and offered some guidance on how to achieve it.
"I want to urge you to hold fast and tight to your experiences of empathy, of joy in work that is a shared passion, and of fairness and cooperation as the life experiences that lead to true happiness and ultimate fulfillment," Zeppos said during a morning ceremony on Alumni Lawn. The entire ceremony can be viewed on this site.
Vanderbilt granted 3,215 degrees this year, 1,541 to undergraduates and 1,693 to graduate and professional students. Nineteen students claimed dual degrees. About 2,578 graduates attended the ceremony.
Zeppos, who was delivering his first Commencement address after accepting the position of chancellor on March 1, cited a study that questioned the linking of material possessions and happiness, another suggesting that a sense of fairness is critical to contentment, and referenced the philosopher Aristotle’s position that friendship is central to living a contented life.
"Lead lives filled with joy. Start that immediately," he advised.
The entire Vanderbilt community gathered to hear Zeppos and honor retiring faculty members and Founder’s Medal winners – the top students in each of Vanderbilt’s 10 schools. Then graduate and professional students moved on to their own ceremonies at various locations around campus.
Chancellor Zeppos hosted the traditional Strawberries and Champaign Celebration later in the day.
Earlier in the week, students along with their families and friends danced to the music of the Commodores and heard from Live Aid organizer Bob Geldof, the winner of Vanderbilt’s 2008 Nichols-Chancellor Medal and $100,000 prize.
Vanderbilt University, founded in 1873, is a private research university with more than 11,000 students. It is one of Tennessee’s largest employers with more than 22,000 employees. It has been consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top 20 universities.
Media Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS