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Zeppos to grads: Balance key to success in life

May. 8, 2009, 2:31 PM

Despite the occasional need to take a courageous stand, balance is the key to success over the long haul, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos told the class of 2009 during the traditional Commencement address.

“When the brave soldier seeks to rescue a wounded comrade in the face of extreme fire, we appropriately celebrate and honor that courage,” Zeppos told more than 2,600 graduates attending the May 8 ceremony in Memorial Gymnasium. “But one cannot lead a life of extremes, out of balance. Work, friends, family, the material and the spiritual must each play a role.

“If Vanderbilt has taught you anything, I hope it is this sense of balance.”

As example, Zeppos noted that Vanderbilt has been highly ranked academically and athletically.

“In your time here, we have seen two who have studied at Vanderbilt win Nobel prizes and we also won a bowl game, four SEC championships and an NCAA championship.

“It is this balance that we cherish and must forever nurture, for it defines our university’s mission and it carves our path.”

Vanderbilt awarded 3,380 degrees this year, 1,568 to undergraduates and 1,812 graduate and-or professional degrees. Some 2,630 graduates attended Commencement.

The ceremony capped three days of celebrations for graduating seniors, their friends and families. The unofficial kickoff was a dance the evening of May 6, followed by Senior Day May 7 featuring an address by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Each of Vanderbilt’s nine schools held its own commencement after all the graduates gathered to hear from Zeppos.

Retiring professors moving to emeriti status were recognized, as were the top students in each school, who were awarded Founders Medals.

“It is your time to lead, to shape our world and our nation’s future,” Zeppos told graduates. “While we cannot but wish for better times ahead, we can also be steadfast in the knowledge that you, our Vanderbilt graduates, will serve and lead in timeless, innovative and virtuous ways.

“We know our nation’s and our world’s futures are far brighter because of what we do here today.”

Contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS