University of Utah graduates were urged Friday morning to bring life into the world with their work by assuming the attitude that they invented the work they are doing.
Roger Rosenblatt, a U.S. News and World Report senior writer, told the 4,832 graduates at the U.'s 120th commencement that "the people who bring the most life into the world through their work are those who look upon their work as a persistently new enterprise, a wholly original enterprise - the way the God of Genesis must have regarded space."This attitude prevents people from being swallowed up or embittered by the minutiae of their work, the journalist said. He said being the inventor of your work protects you from being unduly fearful of superiors or of the institution where you work.
The attitude one holds in relation to his work is "exactly the position you hold in relation to your soul. You own it; you made it or embellished it; and you are wholly responsible for its success or failure."
His comments came at ceremonies in the Jon M. Huntsman Special Events Center. The proceedings will be aired at 9 p.m. Friday on KUED Channel 7.
Rosenblatt warned the graduates to be careful of compromise. "Compromise too easily, too often and soon you will not need anyone to tell you to redirect your work; you'll do the job yourself."
Rosenblatt also urged the U. graduates to create a partnership with the world. "By `a partnership with the world,' I mean the generation of an emotional attachment to the world, the realization of John Donne's discovery that `any man's death diminishes me.' "
Paradoxically, he said, the more we know firsthand of death in the world, the less we feel empowered to do anything about it, so disappointment and discouragement will be part of the partnership.
However, he added, the main tune of the world, if you keep your ear to it, is beautiful.
Student speaker Angela Black, a biology major, said the U. has offered its students the opportunity to be tested not only academically, but on a much broader scale.
"The very action of seeking a degree has tested our ability to finish what we begin. We have each been tested on our ability to recover from discouragement, learn from our mistakes and continue on, stronger than before," she said.
U. President Chase N. Peterson saluted the graduates and, in keeping with a commencement tradition, recognized the graduating class of 50 years ago - the Class of 1938.
In giving a profile of the Class of '88, Peterson said it includes 3,446 bachelor's degrees, 909 master's degrees, 124 juris doctor degrees, 100 medical doctor degrees and 253 doctoral degrees.
On an average it took six years for the new graduates to earn their bachelor's degrees. The new graduates are older, their average age being 27.6 years, and 81 percent are Utah residents. They come from 24 ofUtah's 29 counties, 44 of the 50 states and 40 foreign countries.
Their average GPA is 3.09, with 645 graduating with honors. Six graduates earned perfect 4.0 GPAs.
The U. awarded five honorary degrees, including one to Rosenblatt, who received an honorary doctorate of humanities.
Honorary doctorates were also given to Ret. Rear Admiral Maxine Conder of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, doctor of science; Robert Earl Holding, president and chief executive officer of Sinclair Oil Corp., doctor of laws; Samuel D. Thurman, U. distinguished professor of law emeritus, doctor of laws; and the Most Rev. William K. Weigand, bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, doctor of humane letters.
Academic Vice President Joseph L. Taylor presented distinguished teaching and research awards to six faculty members.
Distinguished teaching awards went to Dr. Bruce F. Baird, professor of management; Dr. John R. Nelson, associate professor of English; and Gladys Gladstone Rosenberg, professor of music.
Distinguished research awards were given to Dr. James Ehleringer, professor of bioengineering; Dr. Joel M. Harris, professor of chemistry and adjunct associate professor of bioengineering; and Dr. Richard F. Riesenfeld, professor of computer science.
Dr. Irwin Altman, distinguished professor of sociology, received the Rosenblatt Prize, which is endowed by a Utah industrialist not related to the commencement speaker. The Franklin L. McKean Leadership Awards went to students Brooks Amiot, Douglas L. Christiansen, Melyssa D. Davidson, Hannah Horsely and Stacy G. Poulos.