Charles Armbruster, Retired UMSL Chemistry Professor
Thank you, Chancellor George, for this singular honor.
Dean Thiel, distinguished faculty, honored guests, graduates and your families and friends. I very much appreciate the invitation to participate in this happy event. Forty-six years ago I joined the faculty of this wonderful University. At that time my faculty colleagues and I faced the daunting challenge of converting the old Bellerive Country Club into a major state University. We joked among ourselves that, while we could all cite examples of state universities that had turned into country clubs, to our knowledge we were the first group to attempt to reverse that process. Thirty-seven years later I retired, after witnessing and participating in a period of development which can only be described as remarkable. It is tempting to recount for you some of the highlights of that amazing period. But today is not about the reminiscences of an old man. We are here today to celebrate the accomplishments of every member of this graduating class. But while we honor you and applaud what you have achieved, I remind you that today's ceremony is called commencement and not finale. Our focus should be not so much on what you have already achieved but on what you are going to achieve as you pursue your professional careers in this increasingly complex world.
I doubt that any of you would be here today were it not for the inspiration and loving encouragement of many people: professors, family and friends. Keep this in mind as your careers develop. Seize the opportunities, as they present themselves, to inspire as you were inspired and to encourage as you were encouraged. If you had a mentor or role model who had a positive influence on your development, attempt to reciprocate by becoming a role model yourself for a young person in need of direction.
It is important to have a plan for your professional development. But do not adhere so rigorously to that plan that you fail to capitalize on the serendipitous events that will inevitably occur. And do not fail to experience the enjoyment that the arts can add to your lives: music, literature and art. These have been among the most significant enhancements in my life and they should be in yours as well.
Dare to dream big dreams and adopt lofty goals. To dream big dreams requires no more energy than to dream little dreams. Judge your success not by some absolute standard but by the degree to which you achieve your lofty aspirations.
Seek out opportunities for public service. Although these may at first appear to require that you give a great deal of yourselves, in retrospect you will realize that you have received far more than you have given
Finally, I can wish nothing better for each of you but that you derive the same degree of fulfillment and personal satisfaction from your professional lives as I derived from mine right here at your new alma mater, the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Congratulations, and good luck to each of you! Thank you.