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Maverick Ring Ceremony

April 26, 2016

Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen – it’s an honor and a pleasure to be here with you today on this very special occasion and to add my welcome and congratulations to each of you.  The Maverick Ring ceremony is an important milestone in your academic careers and a celebration of your achievements.  It is also an opportunity to reflect on your time at the University of Texas at Arlington.  An occasion to not only remember the good times you had these past years with classmates and fellow Mavericks but also to remember those who assisted you in surmounting obstacles and those who stood by you as you faced challenges.  This is a rare moment in time when you need to take stock of all that you’ve done and assess what you want to still complete in your last few days as a student at UTA.  Just think – it’s been a journey that has probably had its ups and downs, its successes and its obstacles, but the finish line is now just ahead.  Congratulations – you’ve almost made it.

At this point I’d like to ask all family members, friends – all those who helped the students here today reach this point in their careers to stand so that we can thank you and recognize the crucial role that you played.  Without your love and support this celebration would not have been possible.  Thank you for all you did.  Today is as much your day as it is for the person who is close to graduation.

This is truly a time where the past, present, and the future all come together – a joyous and yet solemn occasion – the beginning of the important transition from student to alumnus – one that starts today and ends next week when you ceremonially walk across the stage to receive your diploma, and then turn the ring around to signify the culmination of that ceremony.

A few years ago when each of you made the decision to attend UTA you became a part of the Maverick family.  You started as uncertain explorers.  You are getting ready to leave as musicians and athletes, physicists and nurses, engineers and philosophers, teachers, business leaders and political scientists – you came from Arlington and Dallas, New York and Los Angeles, from cities, ranches, and small towns. You brought the world to UTA– and you are leaving as its global ambassadors. 

You will be joining more than 200,000 alumni – a family that continues to grow by more than 10,000 members every year.  You are earning your degrees at a very special time in our history.  We have long known that UTA is a remarkable institution – but today it is poised on the brink of true greatness, positioned to be the model 21st Century Urban Research University – an institution that sets standards for others to follow.  We are an institution on the move – we are strong and thriving, with a tremendous reputation for teaching and research. We are known for excellence and access, innovation and impact.  Earlier this year we were named to the elite group of 115 R-1 “highest research activity” universities – the top ranking in the Carnegie classification.  Your degrees today are worth more than when you joined UTA a few years ago.

You are part of this success.  You are part of the distinguished UTA family.  Through your studies here, you have gained the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to innovate, to create, to reach for the stars and to make dreams a reality.   You’ve already made some dreams come true.  Now as you venture out into the world I look forward to hearing of your other successes and achievements.

You are a Maverick forever no matter where you go and what you do.  Remember those who come after you.  For every friend, professor, and mentor who helped you along your path reach out to another person and help him or her achieve their own dreams.  Speak up about UTA – hopefully in a good way.  Our reputation now lies on your shoulders, just as it does with all our alumni.  As alumni succeed in life, our reputation and the value of your degrees increases.  Come back and visit often. Support our athletic teams and events on campus, and share your expertise with the students who follow in your path.

As you accept your rings tonight, it is my hope that you will wear them always with great pride and respect in the knowledge that you are part of an enduring legacy and tradition, and with the confidence that you do have the power, and the skills, to change the world. 

George Bernard Shaw, and then Robert Kennedy penned words that perhaps ring true for all Mavericks   “Some People See things and say WHY?  I dream things that never were and say WHY NOT”   - so as you get ready to leave these hallowed halls remember that as Mavericks there’s nothing you cannot do, nothing that cannot be achieved, no dream that is too big or too far.  It is not “why” but “WHY NOT” – it’s in your hands.  All you have to do is to reach out.

Congratulations again.