BU Today

Campus Life

Class of 2006 graduates at 133rd Commencement

CBS’s Les Moonves urges graduates to have the courage not to have a clue

They wore robes, rain boots, plastic ponchos, and huge smiles.

The 5,000 members of Boston University’s Class of 2006 were prepared for the worst at Sunday morning’s 133rd Commencement exercises—Michael Kroger (ENG’06) was wearing five layers of clothing, and Melissa Markowitz (CAS’06) had bought her rubber boots, along with matching pairs for her mother and grandmother, the day before. But few students seemed to mind the downpour, and a few welcomed it.

“It takes away from the sadness and makes it kind of hilarious,” said Molly Trinkoff (CAS’06), a psychology major.

“We were disappointed at first, but then we came here, and it’s kind of fun,” added Eleni Kotziamani (SED’06).

At the start of Commencement, President Robert A. Brown thanked the students and their families for braving the weather and promised to cut the ceremony short. He and the other speakers delivered on that pledge—the program concluded after just an hour—but there was time for many touching memories, helpful advice, and sincere hopes to the class.

Thomas Duncombe (CAS’06, COM’06), the student speaker, reminisced about a cold, miserable day during final exams when he encountered a group of students standing on Marsh Plaza, handing out hot coffee and chocolate-chip cookies. He described it as a moment that represents the way BU students try to make a difference, in ways both great and small.

“These moments happen all the time at BU,” he said. “This spirit…is the spirit that embodies this graduating class.”

Leslie Moonves, the president and CEO of CBS Corporation and this year’s Commencement speaker, told the crowd that although he lives his life by programming, the graduates should do as he says, not as he does.

“Don’t plan,” he said. “Look on life not as a fully programmed schedule but as a search. Always keep your options, and your heart, open.”

Moonves observed that many young professionals seem to have their lives planned out when they graduate from college—“and they worry me,” he said. “They’re setting themselves up for confusion down the line, when marriage and kids and mortgages become part of the picture. As you sit here today, your professional lives are all ahead of you. Each day, each week, each year offers opportunities for rebuilding, rediscovering, reexamining. And you have to have the courage not to have a clue . . . you have to be ready at all times for the unexpected and embrace it.”

As proof, he told the graduates that he was initially resistant to the pitches for Survivor and CSI, two of the network’s most popular television shows, but he was persuaded to take a risk on them. “And now,” he said, “I look like a genius.”

The Metcalf Cup for Excellence in Teaching was presented to Abdulmaged Traish, a professor of biochemistry and urology at the School of Medicine, and honorary degrees were awarded to Moonves; Nancy Goodman Brinker, founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation;  Boston University President Emeritus and MED Dean Emeritus Aram Chobanian; Dean Kamen, the inventor of the Segway Human Transporter and president of DEKA Research and Development Corporation; Frederick S. Pardee (SMG’54, GSM’54), philanthropist and benefactor of the University’s Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future; and Patricia Meyer Spacks, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Before sending the graduates off to each school’s convocation, Brown offered a salute to their parents and gave them a final show of confidence.

“You are the future for this University and this country,” Brown told the graduates. “We have confidence that you will represent your alma mater well.”