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Commencement Speaker Shares
Life Lessons with Graduates
MAILED: May 18, 2002
EAU CLAIRE — Make the most of your education by working with others to pursue wisdom, excellence and character, the national chairman of UW-Eau Claire's recently announced $35 million comprehensive fund-raising campaign told candidates for bachelor's and master's degrees during Saturday's spring commencement exercises at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.
"I know that you may not remember the details of my words today, but I would like to make it easy for you to remember the lesson. Whenever you think of UWEC, remember that your team is united in the pursuit of wisdom, excellence and character," alumnus David Karlgaard, a Rice Lake native, said.
Karlgaard, who is the co-founder, CEO and president of the Internet technology consulting firm PEC Solutions Inc., in Fairfax, Va., together with his wife Marilyn, recently committed $4.5 million - the largest gift announced to date by a Wisconsin public regional university - to UW-Eau Claire's "Fulfilling the Promise of Excellence" campaign. The Karlgaards, who are serving as national chairs of the $35 million campaign, established a $4 million charitable trust designated for the university and will contribute an additional $500,000 over the next five years to establish the Karlgaard Excellence in Computer Science Program.
Karlgaard, who majored in math and physics at UW-Eau Claire, said his experiences with people from a variety of educational backgrounds, including public and private institutions, large and small institutions and liberal arts and highly specialized institutions, have made him realize the value of a UW-Eau Claire education.
"You should feel confident that whatever career and personal choices you make in future years, you are well educated and well prepared to accept those challenges and excel in all your endeavors," Karlgaard told Saturday's graduates.
Karlgaard, who went on to earn a master's degree in mathematics from Michigan State University, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from The George Washington University and a master of business administration from The Wharton School of Business, shared some lessons he has learned over the years since graduating from UW-Eau Claire in 1967.
"First is the lesson of the importance of teamwork. You alone will not achieve the potential of your capabilities. Remember that the word 'we' has not only twice the number of letters as the word 'I,' but it also has infinitely more power in achieving your goals," he said. "Today your first team is here with you. Your parents and your relatives, your classmates and your friends, your professors and now the thousands of alumni who have preceeded you down the aisle - we are all here to support you now and in the challenging years ahead."
The second lesson relates to the challenge of achieving wisdom. "Today you are completing an education that serves as the foundation for wisdom," Karlgaard said. "But wisdom is achieved only through leveraging this education and your cumulative life experiences to solve practical needs in society."
The third lesson involves the pursuit of character, which is built around doing the right thing at all times. "I implore you to always be honest in all aspects of your lives, to be loyal to your associates and to set the highest standards in everything that you do in your lives," he said.
In closing, Karlgaard urged students not to forget their days at UW-Eau Claire and to visit the campus in the future.
"A good way to thank the university and your support team for your memorable experience here is through active participation in the Alumni Association and in fund-raising activities to support the continued excellence of your university."
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: May 20, 2002