The president of one of the fastest growing churches in the world challenged University of Utah graduates to put their know-how to work in helping others.
"Your skills can change the lives, in a remarkable and wonderful way, of those who walk in need. If not now, when? If not you, who?" asked Gordon B. Hinckley, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."It is not enough that you get a job, that you get married, that you feverishly work to produce the kind of income which will make possible the luxuries of the world.
"You may gain some recompense in all of this, but you will not gain the ultimate satisfaction," President Hinckley said during the U.'s 129th annual graduation exercises Friday morning at the Jon M. Huntsman Center.
He also urged members of the graduating class to be strong and loving parents.
"The family is falling apart all across the world. Please, my dear young friends, do not add to this catastrophe, but rather, do your part to diminish it. Nothing will be of greater importance in your lives than the role you play as parents," he said.
President Hinckley's selection as commencement speaker was controversial among some students, who expressed their objections in letters to the student newspaper.
University officials braced for a disturbance at the commencement exercises. Instead, President Hinckley, an alumnus, received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his address.
New U. President J. Bernard Machen presided over his first graduation and the institution's last under the quarter system. Beginning next fall, all Utah colleges and universities will conduct classes on a semester basis.
"This is my first graduation here in Utah so we will go commencing together," he said. All told, the U. conferred 6,625 degrees, including 4,760 bachelor degrees and 1,865 graduate degrees.
Earlier this year, the College of Law awarded 143 degrees and the School of Medicine 228 degrees.
U. genetics researcher Mario R. Capecchi was honored as winner of the annual Rosenblatt Prize, a $40,000 cash award to a faculty or staff member of excellence. The prize was endowed by Utah industrialist Joseph Rosenblatt in honor of his parents.
"Dr. Capecchi has given years of selfless service, both to the university and world community," said Machen.
"Many scientific disciplines have been influenced by his research. Indeed, Dr. Capecchi's research is one of the most dramatic examples of how basic scientists addressing fundamental issues in biology provide insight into human diseases. His work, not just as a researcher but an educator as well, epitomizes what the Rosenblatt Prize has come to represent."
Reed W. Brinton, owner and president of Brinton Investment Co. and D&B Leasing Co.; Associate Justice of the Utah Supreme Court Christine Meaders Durham; Brigham D. Madsen, professor emeritus of history at the U; and U. alumnus Yong-Teh Lee, the chief executive officer of the TriGem Corp. were awarded honorary doctorate degrees.
Customarily, the U. awards an honorary doctorate to its commencement speaker. President Hinckley received an honorary degree from the U. in 1992 on the 60th anniversary of his graduation.
David Chapman, associate dean of the graduate school; nursing professor Maeona Kramer; and James T. Svendsen, associate professor of languages and literature, were honored with the U.'s distinguished teaching awards.
Distinguished research awards were presented to Thure E. Cerling, professor of geology and geophysics; Timothy W. Smith, chairman and professor in the psychology department; and computer science professor Frank Stenger.