President Barnard’s address to graduands at the 50th Annual Fall Convocation
The following is the address University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor David T. Barnard delivered to graduands at the 50th Annual Fall Convocation:
Today we celebrate success at the end of a journey and opportunities on the path ahead. Congratulations and thank you to the graduands before me, their friends and family in the audience, and my colleagues behind me.
This summer, my wife Gursh and I walked the last part of the Camino de Santiago. For those who aren’t familiar with this ancient pilgrimage route in Northern Spain, it is considered by many to have the potential to be a life-changing journey – and we certainly found it to be such.
We walked. We were passed by some people. We passed some people. Sometimes we were holding hands; sometimes we were just watching the beauty that was around us. Sometimes we were challenged by the steepness or the irregularity of the path.
Of course, when we reached the end point, we did not celebrate our arrival as being the highlight of the trip – nor is the arrival at the end the part that we talk about when we tell people about the experience. It was the journey that was significant.
And I think that’s true here today.
Each of today’s graduands has reached a significant milestone in life’s journey. Though many of you may continue your studies, the completion of this degree is something I expect you have anticipated for a long time.
And you should be proud, you should celebrate – but not simply because this day has arrived, but because of the great journey that brought you to this point and the journey that still lies ahead of you.
Many of you, during your time as a student, took part in one or more of the 100 plus service-learning, internship, co-op and exchange programs offered here.
You may have taken the chance to travel and study abroad.
Perhaps you contributed to mentorship opportunities such as the Circle of Empowerment or the Indigenous Business Education Program.
Some of you joined research teams to help uncover new discoveries about our world.
Many of our Bison athletes participated in meaningful community engagement through programs such as Bisons Against Bullying and Bison Book Buddies.
Throughout your years with us, you have been shaping this university’s story – you have travelled with the U of M on our journey.
Perhaps some of you joined us on February 28th at our 140th anniversary celebration.
With Premier Pallister and Mayor Bowman and our university community in attendance, we marked a significant milestone and encouraged our community to consider the journey it represents.
Over the past 140 years, U of M has built a strong and engaged community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and community partners.
Our university’s impact is meaningful because of the richness of our diverse community – because of the dynamic relationships we have built through engagement – because of the opportunities we have seized throughout the decades.
And as we think about the possibilities for the next 140 years, we commit to continuing to play a meaningful and transformative role in this province and beyond.
The poem, “Ithaka”, by Constantine P. Cavafy, beautifully illustrates the message I want to leave with you.
As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
You graduate today with a degree, and it is the memories, lessons, experiences and friendships made that give your degree and your entire University of Manitoba experience its true merit.
And it will be the memories, lessons, experiences and friendships made that will give your life merit as well.
On behalf of our entire university community, congratulations on your accomplishment and the very best to you on the voyage ahead.