This news release describes past events and should be used for historical purposes only. Please note date of release.

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

News Bureau • Schofield Hall 201Eau Claire, WI 54702
phone: (715) 836-4741
fax: (715) 836-2900
Commencement Speaker Advises Graduates
To Nurture ‘Habits of the Soul’
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 life.”
        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 our land.”
        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.

UW-Eau Claire Home [Administrative Offices] [News Bureau]

Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: May 21, 2001