187th Commencement Ceremony

May 14, 2022
President Robert W. Iuliano
Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
As Delivered.

Greetings and Opening Comments

Good morning, and welcome to the 187th Commencement exercises of Gettysburg College.

We are honored to gather together today with family and friends, faculty and staff, alumni and distinguished guests—and all of those watching from across the country and around the world—to celebrate this remarkable Class of 2022.

Graduates, let me begin by extending to you my hearty congratulations. This is a special day. It’s a day of joy and reflection—and it is especially well-deserved. Much like your Commencement procession, your journey to this moment has been a long and winding one—with its share of triumphs and obstacles along the way.

Amid these unexpected twists and turns, you have pressed ambitiously forward, shoulder to shoulder with classmates and roommates and teammates who have come to define your Gettysburg experience. And with each step, you’ve been supported by a community that fervently believes in you.

It is a journey I know you will carry with you forever.

Today, you emerge from Pennsylvania Hall not only as Gettysburg graduates, but as leaders and engaged citizens prepared to change the world. Your childhood dream of “one day” and “someday” is now this day.

Class of 2022, it is your time—and we are incredibly proud of you.

As you set your sights on the great tasks before you, and the responsibilities now entrusted to you as our newest alumni, I am reminded of the enduring words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

FDR observed, and here I quote, “We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, just beyond the horizon.”

Graduates, over these past four years, you have fearlessly taken to creating that future.

We see you forming it by how you have rallied around one another and empowered one another—in the classroom and laboratories and studios, on the playing fields and stages, and throughout our community and abroad.

We hear you building it in the ways you have thoughtfully and compassionately engaged in discourse, particularly across difference, and how you have amplified the stories of those too often pushed to society’s margins.

It is because of this collaboration and advocacy during your time here that we can feel the tremble of necessary change beneath our feet.

Together, you are approaching this new horizon with the tools and disposition to make a real and lasting difference—each in your own unique way. It is what this consequential education has readied you to do.

At the end of the day, that’s the goal of your Gettysburg experience. Readying you to be doers. Inspiring you to apply what you’ve learned for the greater good.

We have big challenges facing our nation and our world. Challenges that will require people of courage and conscience to address them. People like Representative Murphy. People like you.

It may be tempting at times to look away, to want to escape from the challenges before us. This temptation has always been present, but evolving technology is offering us newer and more powerful means of escaping.

It may be as simple as relying on increasingly curated online sources of our news, ensuring that our settled worldviews remain undisturbed and unchallenged. Or, it could be through mediums evolving before our eyes. More than two decades ago, the computer game The Sims invited players to live a parallel life online. The Metaverse will soon deliver something even more textured, more realistic, and, perhaps, more controllable and addicting.

As the challenges in the world grow in scale and urgency, and as the beckoning of a more perfect virtual world awaits, one can only imagine a growing temptation to escape, to look away.

But as you will learn from our Commencement speaker today, a noble escape is defined by what you are running toward. Here, you were invited to examine your settled assumptions to see the world through broader and more sophisticated eyes. You were encouraged not to look away from challenges, but to race toward them—to engage, to have your voice heard, to be in the arena. In words familiar to every Gettysburg graduate, to Do Great Work in service of Lincoln’s call to advance the unfinished work.

Graduates, there is no easy path to progress. It can be far too convenient to look around us and concede that we’re too divided to mend, too broken to fix. But if I can leave you with one piece of advice today, it would be this: building a better world means giving your full self to the world that’s in front of you.

So, be present. Be engaged. Be invested.

We have unfinished work still before us—and as aspiring leaders who have blossomed upon this hallowed ground, you are proof that a brighter tomorrow is worth fighting for. Always.

Class of 2022, this is your time.

We look forward to all you will accomplish in the years ahead, and the beautiful life and world you will build.

I hope you enjoy this special day. The pomp and circumstance, the speeches, the celebration. You deserve every moment of it.


The Charge to the Class of 2022

It is now my honor to deliver the charge to the Class of 2022.

I began my comments today by speaking about what it means to build a better world. And how you—as Gettysburg graduates—are proof that a brighter tomorrow is always worth fighting for.

As Phoebe Doscher and Representative Murphy so powerfully expressed, you have everything within you to make a difference. To lead a contributive and meaningful life—a consequential life.

Guided by their words for you today—and inspired by your actions over these past four years—my charge to you is simply this: Dream Daringly.

Be brave in the face of changing tides, and problems that at first blush may seem insurmountable.

Step forward into the arena of tomorrow’s ideas, policies, and decisions—and lend your voice and best thinking to our future.

Be humble but also confident in the many talents you will bring to a world that needs you.

And lastly, believe in yourself. Because when all is said and done, the courage to try is the courage to truly live.

Class of 2022, we are so proud of you.

We wish you the very best in your adventures ahead.