(April 10, 1934- April 23, 2007)
From His University of MichiganSpring Commencement
Main Address April 29, 2000:
"I would like you to think of this great university and the degree you receive today as representing a hope in the as yet unborn. And I hope you will remember this when you become older and are faced with questions of education and public policy and validating for others a comparably great education as the one you have received, an education which will perhaps be bestowed on the children of people whom you do not know and who are perhaps newer to America than you, and whose immigrant parents come from places that seem terribly alien to you. By saying a hope in the unborn, that I refer to the decisions of which you are the beneficiaries, decisions made much earlier in this century by the part of the architects of this school and others, that it should have a faculty second to none, and that it should be open for the children of people whom they would never know. They were quite practical men—they assumed that there would be an immense economic benefit to educating as many people as high a level as possible--and they believed as well, for there is an idealism built into their concept, that it elevated every one in the process—in fact that it ennobled those who were a part of it. And that it does. Just look around you.
For it is critical to something which we now almost take for granted, the ascent to the good life in this country, and it critical to something that I believe still sets apart from other societies, a belief that for all our flaws and failures, and myriad short comings, that we in America more than any other society, give ordinary citizens a chance to reach their fullest potential."