Oshinsky tells graduates they’re well equipped to find solutions to problems facing society
Posted: May 29, 2007
“It’s hardly a secret that you’ll be leaving this cloistered, nurturing campus to enter a messy, unpredictable world,” Oshinsky told the crowd of 22,000 people gathered on the university’s Main Mall to celebrate the graduation of about 7,400 students including undergraduate, graduate and law students.
“But here’s the good news,” Oshinsky said. “Our world has always been messy. The problems you face today are no more ominous than those faced by previous generations of Americans. These problems have solutions, and it is up to you to figure them out.” He expressed confidence in the skills and abilities of today’s graduates not only to resolve the world’s problems but to make it a better place for future generations.
“So there’s good reason to be optimistic—to savor this moment, to breathe it in slowly, and to dream big dreams,” Oshinsky said. “I only ask these things of you: be civil to those with whom you disagree and be generous to others along the way. Fully understand how privileged you are to be graduates of The University of Texas at Austin. Be mindful of this gift and willing to share the bounty it will bring you. And remember how much your parents and family members have sacrificed to get you here.”
Oshinsky, the Jack S. Blanton, Sr. Chair in History at The University of Texas at Austin, received the Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for his book “Polio: An American Story,” which details America's obsession with the disease in the 1940s and 1950s. His keynote speech was among the highlights at the 124th Spring Commencement ceremonies at the university, which also included a fireworks display from the university’s Tower, which glowed bright orange with “O7” on the sides of the building.