Wilder Graduation
Wilder Graduation

We sometimes fail to recognize and acknowledge our uplifting and committed young leaders. Saturday, I spoke at the Wilder School commencement. I was joined by Rachel Worthington, Graduate Commencement speaker, and Nicholas Gray, Undergraduate Commencement Speaker, their messages were so clear and inspiring. They recognized the difficulties but summoned the graduates to lean steadfastly into the winds of denial, self-doubt, and obstruction.

In an atmosphere of fear and dread, doubt and suspicion, it is encouraging to see our young leaders take up the mantle and lead. Our job is not to let them down by dampening their potential, but rather, to really support them in any way possible.

 

VCU WILDER SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS COMMENCEMENT REMARKS

December 17, 2019

L. Douglas Wilder

Dean Gooden, faculty and staff, I am pleased to be with you as you celebrate the receiving of your degrees; and I want to specifically recognize the family and friends and the recipients themselves for your persistence in success.

I was in conversation recently with someone who said that we met at a graduation, a few years back, of a close relative. I said to him that he should be proud to know that our School is now ranked 39th in the nation, and at the top in Virginia. Dean Gooden and her assistants, support staff, and, of course, our faculty should be congratulated for making our School one of the top “Go-To Schools” in the nation.

I have seen the students coming here from the top 24 schools in the nation, to drink from our fountain of engaging in leadership. I have traveled across the nation, on occasions with the Deans and witnessed the crying out for the leadership that we, through a combination of circumstances, are fortunate to provide. Schools of government and public affairs are the engines for further enlightening and providing guidance for addressing many of the problems affecting governance.

The kind of leadership of which I speak is not an encouragement to seek a political office. I speak to the need to be a part of the decision-making in your city, state, or locality. Somebody does, why not you? There’s not a day that passes that we all are not exposed to hearing the solutions to our problems can be solved or resolved by just electing politicians to office, yet that is not sufficient. Our education system has not progressed with the times, but in too many instances, retrogressed.

Our nation is presently riveted in the grips of divide. Prophets of gloom are in abundance and we have “experts” everywhere. They tell you what to watch, what to believe, and who to believe.

And on too many occasions, they explain that more money is needed to help your particular problems but in the meantime, they need to hire some more people to study public education, infrastructure repairs, and crime reduction.

My one-word definition of politics holds true. Money is the root of all politics. I’m not concerned about who gets what when the pie is sliced; Lyndon Johnson was noted for saying, “Come, let us reason together”; I would just say, “let’s cut the pie together”.

You are a part of that vanguard that will demand what is right and criticize what is wrong, and conjuring up my high school class motto from 1947, non sibi, sed omnibus, (not for self, but for all).

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