NEW YORK (May 20, 2006)—Veteran broadcast journalist Chris Matthews, anchor of MSNBC’s Hardball, urged the more than 4,600 members of Fordham’s Class of 2006 to seek adventure, ask questions and not be content to sit on the sidelines as they leave the University to make their places in the world.
“There’s a false assumption out there that talent will surely be recognized. Just get good at something and the world will beat a path to your door. Don’t believe it,” said Matthews, during the University’s 161st Annual Commencement on the Rose Hill campus. “The world is not checking with us to see what skills we’ve picked up, what ideas we’ve concocted, what dreams we carry in our hearts.”
Matthews reflected on his two years of service with the Peace Corps in Swaziland during the 1960s, an experience he called his “movable feast,” a reference to Ernest Hemingway’s memoir of expatriate life in Paris during the 1920s. He urged graduates to continue their education, and pursue “that thing called experience, the adventure and good work and shared humanity of the Jesuit Volunteers or the Peace Corps or whatever else gets you out there, and the memories, believe me, that come with it — your personal ‘moveable feast.’”
In addition to hosting Hardball, Matthews is the host ofThe Chris Matthews Show, a syndicated weekly news program, and a regular commentator on NBC’s Todayshow. He has covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first all-races election in South Africa and the Good Friday Peace Talks in Northern Ireland.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of Fordham University, conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters on Matthews, a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross, and the author of four best-selling books, including American: Beyond Our Grandest Notions(Free Press, 2002).
Father McShane also conferred degrees on the members of the Class of 2006, congratulated them and recalled some of the lessons they learned outside the classroom during their Fordham careers.
“As Fordham students and as New Yorkers—either by birth or by adoption—you learned that when a rock is thrown in the Gaza strip, a heart is broken in a neighborhood in Brooklyn,” Father McShane said. “When a bomb goes off in a London tube, we shudder on the D train; when a child starves in Darfur, the streets of Manhattan stream with tearful demonstrators. … As a result of your experiences at Fordham, you learned that W. H. Auden was not merely sprouting pretty poetry when he told a world on the brink of war in 1939 that ‘we must love one another or die,’ and that John Donne was right after all, when he said that ‘No man is an island, entire of itself.’”
Also receiving honorary doctorates of humane letters at today’s Commencement were Joan H. Weill, co-chair of the New York Weill Cornell Medical Center Women’s Health Symposium, whose extensive public service and philanthropy also includes membership on the board of trustees of Paul Smith’s College and the board of directors of Women in Need, an organization dedicated to helping homeless women and their children; and Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame. Father Malloy, known affectionately as “Monk,”served as president of Notre Dame from 1987 to 2005. He is the author of six books, including Monk’s Notre Dame(University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), and is the author of more than 50 articles and book chapters. An ethicist by training, he is a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the Society of Christian Ethics.
Joseph W. Polisi, Ph.D., president of the Juilliard School since 1984, received an honorary doctorate of fine arts. A seasoned college administrator, he writes on music, public policy and the arts, and is an accomplished bassoonist, having performed extensively in chamber and solo recitals. Polisi has also served as dean of the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, dean of faculty at the Manhattan School of Music and executive officer of the Yale University School of Music.
Angelo R. Mozilo (CBA ’60), chairman and CEO of Countrywide Financial Corporation, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the diploma ceremony for the Graduate School of Business Administration on Sunday, May 21, and Ruth Sanchez-Way, Ph.D. (GSS ’65), a veteran public health administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at the diploma ceremony for the Graduate School of Social Service on May 23.