ATHENS, Ohio (June 10, 2006) -- National Public Radio satirical commentator and Ohio University alumnus Brian Unger and former President of Massachusetts Institute of Technology Charles Vest, Ph.D., offered words of wisdom and life experiences to more than 3,000 graduates at Ohio University's undergraduate commencement ceremonies on Saturday, June 10, in the Convocation Center.
"From this day on, prepare yourself for the randomness that will increasingly creep into your lives," Unger said. "In that randomness you will divine success. More than anyone wants to admit it, success is often random, just an accident. The intersection of ambition and luck."
Unger's satirical reports on culture and politics are featured each week on NPR's "Day to Day." He is also one of the original correspondents and producers for "The Daily Show" on Comedy Central. His work as a correspondent and producer for the series earned him the acclaim of TV Guide and the New York Observer. Unger was listed as one of the "100 Most Creative People in Entertainment" by Entertainment Weekly.
"At NPR, where I am a humor contributor, my role is that of a jester. But beneath the laughs is a stab at the truth. Perhaps a truth so ugly, absurd, or so unjust we as listeners and viewers don't want it straight. With a laugh, it goes down a little easier," Unger said.
Unger addressed the morning undergraduate commencement ceremony, which recognized bachelor and associate degree candidates in the following colleges: University College, Regional Higher Education, Russ College of Engineering, College of Business, Scripps College of Communication and College of Fine Arts.
Vest addressed the afternoon undergraduate commencement ceremony, which recognized bachelor and associate degree candidates in the following colleges: Honors Tutorial College, College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health and Human Services and College of Education.
"Education is a great and critically important privilege," Vest said. "But in your years ahead, just having a degree will be only a start. You will need to keep on learning throughout your life and career. The pace of change will just be too dramatic to do otherwise."
Vest chairs the U.S. Department of Energy Task Force on the Future of Science Programs and is vice chair of the Council on Competitiveness. He also sits on the board of directors of IBM and E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. He is a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT and is a Life Member of the MIT Corporation, the institute's board of trustees. Vest served as president of MIT from 1990 until December 2004. Throughout his presidency, he placed special emphasis on enhancing undergraduate education and research programs, developing stronger relations with industry and enhancing racial and cultural diversity at MIT.
Senior Class President Trischa Snyder greeted the graduates and discussed the importance of balancing life's demands.
"As you begin to tackle this balancing act of life, never forget what is important to you. Challenge normalcy and exceed expectations. Impress upon this world a legacy greater than what anyone can anticipate," Snyder said. "And remember, these brick pathways will always lead you home."
Also at today's ceremonies, honorary degrees were conferred on: Unger, an Honorary Doctor of Communication degree for his outstanding achievements as a nationally recognized political satirist, writer, actor and television producer; Sadanand Singh, an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his noteworthy national and international accomplishments as a prominent scholar, leader and philanthropist; Vest, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree for his incredible devotion to bringing issues concerning education and research to broader public attention and to strengthening national policy on science, engineering and education; and Carl Heiles, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree for his distinguished work as a scholar and the intellectual direction he has provided to his students as an educator.
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Editors: Photos of today's undergraduate commencement ceremony can be downloaded from the Web after 6 p.m.: