A Recap of Commencement 2015

Michael Weatherly and Mark Templeton, keynote speakers at Commencement 2015

The 2015 Commencement exercises at Menlo College kicked off with the fanfare of Pipers and Color Guard, and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem sung by Monica Juan. The official welcome was extended by Grand Marshal Jack Klingler.

Following that spectacular launch, President Richard A. Moran thanked the Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, and praised the graduates and their families on their major achievement: the completion of their baccalaureate studies. He urged everyone present to hold on to their zeal for celebrating life.

President Moran reminded the crowd that they are never too old to make new friends. “Look up! Life is not in your cell phone. If you are looking down, you may miss life in the eyes of others.”

Carolyn Amster ’79 spoke on behalf of Menlo College alumni. She stated that the Menlo experience is important for the graduates’ success. Menlo College Student Government President Haley Heryford then recited a long list of great Menlo moments that will be long-treasured.

The Dean of Library Services Linda Smith presented the faculty awards for teaching, service, and research. The Charles B. Emerick Teaching Prize for 2014-15 went to Professors Craig Medlen and Ron Kovas. Dr. Craig Medlen has been on the Menlo faculty for the past 43 years, teaching economics. Dean Smith shared that “students still applaud his engaging and provocative pedagogy in the classroom.” Since joining the faculty in 2013, Professor Kovas has been celebrated as a professor whose “students are impressed with both his course content and the application of theory to real-world business scenarios.”

The Faculty Service Award was presented to Instructor Lowell Pratt, described by colleagues as an “unsung hero” for his labor-intensive efforts that include multiple vital standing committee assignments. The Dean’s Scholarship Award was presented to Dr. Melissa Michelson for scholarly research and writing, including the publication of a book and five peer-reviewed articles in the past academic year alone.

Professor Klingler introduced the 2015 co-valedictorians Nicole Larson and Lauriane Cassou for the traditional program, and Provost James Woolever introduced Daniel Lyons as the 2015 Valedictorian from the Professional Studies Program.

Hollywood celebrity Michael Weatherly, Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo in NCIS and former Menlo College student, gave an exuberant speech that mentioned celebrities such as LL Cool J, Robert Wagner, Bon Jovie, and more.

Weatherly experienced his turnaround from poor student to great student in the program at Menlo College. Weatherly noted that Menlo College gave him the “insane gumption to be an actor.” His passion for acting evolved watching practically every film in the collection of Bowman Library, often as much as six hours a day.

He encouraged the crowd to find their passion and look to the future, quoting Joseph Campbell, “Because if all you know about yourself is what you found out about yourself, well, that already happened. The self is a whole field of potentialities to come through.” Weatherly stressed that great self-discovery is in the future. He ended with a quote from LL Cool J, “Teamwork makes the dream work.”

Mark Templeton, CEO of Citrix, told a poignant story of the ups and downs of life, and how to overcome setbacks. His advice included two important strategies:

  1. Find your passion in what you do. If you love what you do, you’ll never “work” a day in your life. As an example, he gave his personal story of starting in engineering, trying out product design, and ending up in software. “Software touched my heart,” he said.
  1. Be persistent. Demonstrate the depth of your passion with persistence. He quoted Winston Churchill, who said, “Never give up. Never give up! Never give up! Never, never, never-never-never-never!'”

He recalled how Citrix had been setting records as a Wall Street darling in NASDAC, when there was a market change and Citrix missed their expectations and crashed with a 100-point drop. “Setbacks always happen,” he emphasized. “Setbacks make us stronger if we let them become opportunities to persist. If your passion is real you’ll persist.”

Templeton also had some interesting ideas on combining work with life. He called it ‘life-slicing.’ “You’ll never escape life, so make it fun. Combine life and work so that you’ll be stellar in life. Keep your Menlo relationships working for a lifetime. Treat your colleagues in the workplace like family. Never let hierarchy affect the respect of others. Bring life to work and work to life.”

The diplomas were presented and Grand Marshal Jack Klinger declared the 86th Menlo College commencement ceremony recessed. After the ceremony, Menlo College experienced a paparazzi moment when an enormous crowd of Weatherly’s TV series fans rushed towards him for selfies to commemorate the day.