Chancellor tells graduates to stay focused and listen
The Messenger 12.21.07
Chancellor Tom Rakes welcomed one last opportunity Saturday to speak to University of Tennessee at Martin graduates before they joined more than 35,000 alumni worldwide.
The chancellor offered a brief commencement address and conveyed University of Tennessee President John Petersen’s congratulations to the graduates, their families and friends.
Commencement speaker Dr. Robert A. Levy, University of Tennessee vice president for academic affairs and student success, was unable to attend because of poor travel conditions.
Rakes drew his comments from a book by Dr. Lee J. Colan, “7 Moments that Define Excellent Leaders.” He told the graduates to stay focused, listen more than talk and remember that they are responsible for the decisions they make.
“How we spend our time defines how we live our lives,” he said of being focused. “We tend to become what we focus on.
“Listening, when done well, is very, very important. Studies have found that top performers spend at least 50 percent of their interactive time with others listening,” he said.
Finally, he related an American Indian story that compared good and evil to two wolves and added, “The winner is the one you feed.”
Graduates represented 48 Tennessee counties and 13 other states, including Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio and Texas. Graduates also hailed from Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam.
After conferring degrees, Rakes directed his final comments to the newest group of UT Martin alumni.
“Maintain your contact with your alma mater, give us your advice and support and, finally, be supportive of higher education as you move forward,” he said. “Post-secondary education has become an essential element for a successful future. Invest in others by sending us other good students like you. With an average family income level below $32,000 in Tennessee, a college education is now essential.
“Graduates, we are proud of you. Now it is your time to make great things happen,” he added.