2010 Charge to the Graduates

May 16, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen: it is now my honor to welcome the Class of 2010 into the lifelong and worldwide community of George Washington University alumni. You are exceptional men and women, and I am proud to call you graduates of this great university.

This is a significant day for you and for the family and friends who have supported you throughout your educational journey. We gather in this majestic setting on the National Mall to celebrate your accomplishments, applaud your hard work and perseverance, and honor your commitment to serve as active and engaged citizens of your communities, your nations, and the world.

This academic year was launched with a challenge issued to all of us from our distinguished Commencement speaker, the First Lady of the United States. Mrs. Obama’s challenge provided us with an opportunity to celebrate and strengthen George Washington’s deep and long-standing culture of service, a culture that was born of our namesake’s vision to found a university in the heart of this nation’s capital that would forge a new citizenry for the nation as a whole.

Graduates, I charge you to keep alive the spirit, the creativity, and the commitment to service that have won our admiration during your years in our midst. I charge you also to keep alive the curiosity that has guided you through your studies here, so that whatever work you undertake will constantly be refreshed by new knowledge. And I charge you to nourish the respect you have learned for all persons, especially those whose cultures, traditions, and opinions differ from your own.

You are our future. We depend on you to repair what earlier generations have broken, to build what we have left unbuilt, to learn what we have not yet learned, to heal what we have so far left unhealed. And as you go forth to do these things, always know that, at the George Washington University, you have a home in the heart of this nation’s capital.

Congratulations and best wishes to you all!


President Knapp's Charge to the Graduates at the 2010 Commencement on May 16 at the National Mall.