December Graduates' Recognition Celebration

Alumni Welcome - Frank Cioffi

Welcome - Frank Cioffi, Past President of the UVM Alumni Council and University Trustee

Good Morning.

This has been a very extraordinary year at our university, times both challenging and rewarding. Through it all, the university community has shown how a strong community works together in the face of adversity and opportunity.

You have seen the great work of our visionary president, Daniel Mark Fogel and his partner Rachel Kahn-Fogel. On behalf of the UVM alumni I thank them and our chair of the board of trustees, Carl Lisman, and former senior vice president and provost, A. John Bramley, for their outstanding leadership during the past year. UVM is a better place because of their leadership and dedication.

This may be the last time that I ever speak at a UVM commencement activity. You see I have finished my term as UVM Alumni Council Chair and I do not have the aspiration to be either the president or the chair of the board of trustees of this great university. I only aspire to be a giving and productive member of our board of trustees and dedicated member of your alumni association. So today I will take 2 minutes longer than I was allotted to offer you congratulations and a challenge.

First, to you, your parents, your family and your friends, congratulations on your achievement. We are proud of your accomplishments and join you in your celebration today.

Second, on behalf of the 85,000 members of the UVM alumni across this world, welcome. The UVM Alumni Association welcomes you and needs you. We need you to keep in touch and involved with your university.

Third, the two most significant things that your Alumni Association does for you and our university are:

1. We are very involved in our communities throughout the world and we encourage you to please join us in doing the same in the name of this great university.

2. Each year we recognize one of the great members of our UVM faculty and honor them with the George Kidder Outstanding Teaching Award. We present this award in memory of George Kidder who started out as a student on this campus and went on to be a Classics professor, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and then a very active member of the UVM Alumni Association. Our faculty, your professors, your mentors, your teachers will be the people you long remember this great university for as your life progresses. They are the soul of our university.

Taylor Mali “What Teachers Make”

He says the problem with teachers is, “What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?”
He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true what they say about teachers:
Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue instead of his.

Because we’re eating, after all, and this is polite company.

“I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor,” he says.
“Be honest. What do you make?”

You want to know what I make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.
I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional medal of honor
and an A- feel like a slap in the face.
How dare you waste my time with anything less than your very best.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall
in absolute silence.

Why won’t I let you get a drink of water?
Because you’re not thirsty, you’re bored, that’s why.

I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:
I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

You want to know what I make?

I make kids wonder,
I make them question.
I make them criticize.
I make them apologize and mean it.
I make them write, write, write.
And then I make them read, read, read.
I make them spell definitely beautiful, over and over and over again until they will never misspell either one of those words again.
I make them show all their work in math.
And hide it on their final drafts in English.

I make them understand that if you have the brains, then follow your heart.

And if someone ever tries to judge you by what you make in money, you pay them no attention.

You want to know what I make?

I make a difference. “What about you?”

In closing, you are the hope for the future of our university, our country, and our world.

We live in a time that needs you to step up and make a difference.

Go out and do something special. Use your divinely inspired talents to change this world for the better.

Make a difference.

Do something special,

Do something meaningful,

Get to know your neighbors,

Mentor a young person,

Support the local arts,

Take responsibility,

Be honest,

Take the time to listen,

Think before you speak and then mean what you say,

Offer to help and mean it,

Visit a senior citizen,

Read a story to a child,

Mentor a young person,

Reach out to those in need,

Run for public office,

Be a leader in everything you do,

Find your passion,

Speak your mind,

Practice humility,

Be a friend,

Show your love,

Believe in yourself,

Follow your heart,

Make a difference every single day and remember this good place,

We will remember you.

The world is counting on you.

Last modified January 05 2007 06:42 PM

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