President Pastides addresses December 2016 graduates
From prepared remarks.
Good afternoon graduates! How do you feel? How quickly the time has passed. We're here, already at your Commencement. I think you will agree that the time has simply flown by. When you were dropped off by loved ones, or even for those of you who flew in from far-away places, you likely thought college would last for an eternity. But, in fact, so much has happened in so little time. It's mind boggling how much you've changed and even how much the campus has changed during the time you've been here.
If you need a reminder, since you arrived we have opened brand new or fully renovated buildings and spaces like the Darla Moore School of Business, the My Carolina Alumni Center, 650 Lincoln, the College of Information and Communications and its Greenhouse Broadcast Studio, the Russell House Leadership and Service Center, the IBM Center for Applied Innovation, Hamilton College for the College of Social Work and residence halls including Rutledge, Legare, Pinckney and the entire Women's Quad.
And since you arrived, we have built a new softball stadium, a brand new beach volleyball complex, a new golf practice facility, the Jerri and Steve Spurrier indoor football practice facility, and one of the best tailgate areas in the nation that we call Gamecock Park. And if you stop by next year you can visit our new School of Law and the new Student Health Center.
That was a near-bewildering list for me to prepare and you will likely agree with me that all those changes at our university were positive. But sometimes change, or change that is too much or too rapid, is not good. Some things shouldn't change—especially the things that define us—like the Horseshoe for example, or for us, as individuals, our core values. We don't want those things to change, not out of nostalgia but because people and institutions need bedrock to build upon, to grow from—like the Horseshoe and core values.
In the past, change seemed to come more slowly. Things didn't always seem so hectic. But now technology, which I think is responsible for much of the rapid change we feel, has seemed to take on a life of its own.
I remember first learning how to write in block letters when I was in grade school and how nervous I was when we moved on to cursive handwriting in the third grade; I'm not sure that they teach that anymore. By high school it was, "Harris, you need to learn how to type." So I took typing lessons on a Smith Corona manual typewriter that my family had purchased for my older sister...they certainly had no other need for a typewriter. By the way, they paid extra for the carbon paper, white-out and correcto-tape. (Graduates, you can see those things at the Smithsonian if you are ever there!) I still have my Smith-Corona, so I looked it up on Ebay while I was preparing these remarks. It's worth only $16.00! That was disappointing. So here's some advice for the Class of 2016, don't hoard things you don't need!
In the past four years there has been a steady stream of new technologies that have changed our lives. Since you first came to Carolina we've seen Smart watches, "Cloud" computing, digital wallets, e-pay, virtual reality machines, self-driving cars, commercialized drones, Facebook live video, Snapchat, Amazon Prime, 23 & me, apps to lock and light the house, food orders by emojis and games like Pokemon Go that swept over campus this past year. And, oh yes, the Samsung Galaxy 7! None of these things were around before you started at Carolina.
So, to the Class of 2016, I send you forth with a happy heart, knowing you are well-prepared.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I find all of this change hard to cope with. Coping, in fact, is becoming harder for many people, that's partly why there has been a steady uptick in prescriptions for coping disorders. In the past decade the percentage of Americans on antidepressants has doubled to 13 percent.
Back in 1965, the CEO of Intel, Gordon Moore, predicted that the speed and capacity of computing would double every two years. Many thought he was crazy, but it turns out that Moore's Law was pretty accurate—except today—Moore's Law turns out to be an underestimate.
I'm not actually complaining about all of this, but we do have to deal with it—to cope better than we have. I think I have a possible antidote...some more advice for you. It's not profound, so don't hold your breath. It's simple. The way to deal with all the change in our lives is to not let it change who we are. And especially not to diminish the amount of our vital and meaningful interpersonal interactions. I want you to always prioritize face-to-face dialogue and conversation.
For example, at work. I know many of you in the Class of 2016 have jobs or are on a good track for one. Here's some advice: Talk to your boss a lot. Let her or him get to really know you and vice versa. Make appointments if necessary. And hang out with your new colleagues. Talk with them on a regular basis. Get to know them, allow them to get to know you. Ask about their families, share a funny story. If they don't root for the Gamecocks, make a friendly bet with them. Be careful about that...because as you know, we don't always win!
The University of South Carolina will always be a part of your family and network and we will always welcome your home.
My point is that email and texts are absolutely fine for some things, but don't allow technology and social media to create isolation in your professional lives. You can flame out on social media and email, but you can't shine. Go the personal route whenever you can. And at home, let your loved ones know they are needed. Being needed nourishes the human condition; it enhances self-confidence and minimizes self-doubt. Love your friends and family and do it when it's the hardest, when the chips are down for them. You will be rewarded handsomely. They will make you feel needed too.
Being needed is the antidote to isolation it makes your life relevant. So use technology in its rightful place, but when you have something really important to say to someone—whether it's extremely positive, and especially if it's not, do it face-to-face.
By the way, you can tweet that if you want.
And for goodness sake, after you graduate, tell us here, at your alma mater, when you need us or how we might help you. Of course you'll hear from us, but we want a strong and direct relationship with you and we hope it will last forever.
So, to the Class of 2016, I send you forth with a happy heart, knowing you are well-prepared. Please remember, no matter how many changes occur in the years ahead, one thing will never change, the University of South Carolina will always be a part of your family and network and we will always welcome your home.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me now as we celebrate the accomplishments of the Class of December 2016.