MAILED: May 21, 2001
EAU CLAIRE—Stay connected to the
university and seek to make good choices in life, UW System Regent Jose Olivieri
told candidates for bachelor’s and master’s degrees during Saturday’s
spring commencement exercises at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
“I know many of you have developed a strong
relationship with a professor through research opportunities and other academic
activities. Keep that connection with professors alive,” Olivieri said.
“There is no reason that UW-Eau Claire cannot be your college throughout your
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson appointed Olivieri to the
Board of Regents in 1998. A partner in the law firm of Michael Best &
Friedrich, he is a graduate of Carroll College and has a law degree from
Marquette University. Currently a board member of the United Community Center,
the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Milwaukee Public Library Foundation, he
was a member of the Governor’s Commission on Schools for the 21st
Century. He is a member of the Board of Regents’ Education Committee and
Committee on Board Effectiveness.
Olivieri reminded students that because of their time at
UW-Eau Claire, they will have choices in life that others in this state and
country do not. During their college years they have had the opportunity to
interact with those who are different from them.
“This interaction with the different, the very act of
exposing your view of life to the challenge of criticism, these experiences
implicate the habits of the mind — habits of the soul — habits of the heart
that UW-Eau Claire has sought to instill,” he said. “It is up to you as the
Eau Claire alumni to strengthen and nurture these habits.”
Students also have the ability to learn, to create and to
be passionate about ideas. They have the ability to decide what is the good
thing or right thing to do in a particular situation while accepting with
humility the limits of their knowledge.
“We have the ability to contemplate and act in
furtherance of what we think is right, what we think is moral, what we think is
ethical,” he said.
“I suggest we choose to think for ourselves, that we
choose to seek what is good and determine what our responsibility is in the
circumstances we face and then act consistently with what we believe is right,
with what is our responsibility,” Olivieri said.
In a reference to a speech by Robert Kennedy following
the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., he reminded students that the price
of the choice of apathy by individuals is the violence of indifference and
inaction and slow decay.
In Kennedy’s words, “This is the violence that
afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has
different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools
without books and homes without heat in the winter.”
“We must recognize that this short life can neither be
ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge. Our lives on this planet are too
short and work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in
Finally, Olivieri concluded that these words spoken more
than 30 years ago articulate what is at stake as people decide what path to take
in their lives.
“All Americans must make these choices, but you, as
college graduates, carry the heavier burden, the heavier responsibility in
helping to set the course of our society,” he said.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 21, 2001