As we sit here today, our university approaches its bicentennial celebration. Very few universities in the United States have existed for 200 years, and it is one of the many reasons why IU is a special place. But merely existing for so long is not what makes us special — it is because we have prospered and the way we have prospered. Things have gone well for IU — for the students at IU, for the faculty at IU, for the alumni of IU, for all members of the IU family — things have gone well.
Consider just a very few highlights that demonstrate ways that so many of you and so many of our faculty and alumni have done so well here and have done so well going beyond the walls of IU.
- Consider that Mr. Anthony Kim, a student in Kinesiology, was the recent recipient of the best student research paper award at this year’s Sport Marketing Association conference in Dallas, Texas. Mr. Kim received this award from a pool of nearly 80 competitors for his paper entitled “The moderating effects of team identification in the relationships among spectator dysfunction behavior, anger and revisit intention.”
- Consider that Professor Kei Kawata won a top Department of Defense competition award, among 356 national competitors, for his work on concussion research.
- Consider that Professor Shawn Gibbs and his research team recently won the Edward J. Baier Technical Achievement Award from the American Industrial Hygiene Association for making significant contributions to industrial hygiene through technical expertise, and innovations and scientific advancements.
- Consider that our students Elizabeth Bartelt and Alex Purcell are this year’s recipients of the prestigious Stephen Jay Award for Leadership in Public Health. The award is presented annually to current public health students across the state who exhibit exemplary public health leadership, scholarship, and practice, resulting in the improvement of public health in our great state of Indiana.
- Consider that Dr. Maresa Murray received the Bloomington Woman of the Year Award for her work examining the implicit biases of black and white young adults in Bloomington – and specifically on experiences of black girls in predominately white communities compared to the experiences of white girls in those same communities.
- Consider that doctoral student Daehyoung Lee was awarded the Indiana University John H. Edwards Fellowship for one of IU’s most prestigious academic fellowship awards, that is given to only three graduate students each year.
And success is not restricted to our faculty and students, but it is also our alumni and our emeriti who do well.
Consider that Mr. Todd Spaletto, one of our alumni, was recently honored with a Distinguished Alumni Service Award at Indiana University. This is one of the highest awards given at Indiana University – which recognized him for his accomplishments as the CEO of the North Face Company, and now as the president at Wolverine Sport – as well as his overall contributions to promoting physical activity nationwide.
Consider Professor Emerita Ruth Clifford Engs who continues her scholarly activities well into her retirement to explore hypotheses concerning the determinants of behaviors such as student drinking patterns; models that examine the etiology of cycles of prohibition and temperance movements, and origins of various social reform movements with moral overtones.
The list of accomplishments and the individuals who have done well and done good is a very long one. These are only a few of the many, many examples I’m able to share.
So once again I submit to you that you have done well. We have done well, and we continue to do well even when we move beyond the walls of Indiana University.
But as any professor in the English Department will tell us, there is a difference between doing well and doing good. When Todd Spaletto, whom I mentioned earlier as one of our distinguished alumni, became CEO of North Face and then President of Wolverine Sport — he helped to enhance his business ventures and achieve financial success for himself and his family — he did well. But when he went further to use his business success to promote physical activity, wellness, enhancement of health, and quality of life — he did good. To do well describes the quality of our performance. To do good describes the positive impact we have on others. And I submit to you, not only do our School of Public Health students, faculty, alumni, and emeriti do well, but far more importantly, they do good. You do good. And as you go out into the world, you have the opportunity, and dare I say, further, the obligation, to do good.
If you are familiar with the Spider-Man comics and movies, you may recall that Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben often reminds Peter that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Yet, for those with longer memories, you may recall that in 1906, it was Sir Winston Churchill who said “where there is great power, there is great responsibility.” Regardless of whether Uncle Ben or the great British Prime Minister, or even the biblical precursors available is your source for the quotation, the statement is as true today as it ever was. You have been armed with the power of education. The power of knowledge; hopefully you will add to that the power of wisdom, and a thirst for helping your fellow humans to not only do well but to do good.
There are many ways to do good. When my children were younger, I would read to them a book called Miss Rumphius. It’s a wonderful little book written by Barbara Cooney, and I recommend it to you. In the book, Miss Rumphius, is a young girl who is told by her grandfather “when you grow up there is one thing you must do. You must make the world a more beautiful place.” Miss Rumphius grows up and travels around the world. Then, at some point, she becomes a young adult and she realizes it is time for her to fulfill her commitment. She returns home and she does something to make the world a more beautiful place. In her case, she chooses to plant lupine flowers. And her neighborhood is thick with lupine flowers. And that is how she makes the world a more beautiful place. That is her impact. And I told my children growing up, it is your job, just like Miss Rumphius, to make the world a more beautiful place, a better place for all of us. And that is something we all have an obligation to do.
You have the power to build on a very rich tradition of those from our very school who have done well and who have done good. You don’t have to look far. These examples include Dr. Anita Aldrich, former dean of the IU School of Public Health in 1975 and 1976, then known as the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation. She seized the moment when the time was right to advance the cause of women in kinesiology and physical education. Dr. Aldrich served in many leadership and advisory roles throughout her career. She served as president of state and national associations. Yet perhaps her greatest achievement was to make the world a better place for the lives of girls and women by promoting their participation in sports and fitness activities and healthy lifestyles at a key moment in history.
The tradition is also about Dr. John Seffrin, a former professor in our school, who went on to dedicate his entire professional career to the advancement of health in all populations, with particular focus as a leader in the American Cancer Society. From 1992 until his retirement in 2015, he served as Chief Executive Officer of the Society, the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to the eradication of cancer. There, he revolutionized its mission to assimilate the notion of prevention and health education as integral parts of its existence. His efforts had profound effects on public health policy. Under his leadership, the Society became a leading advocacy organization through its major re-organizational efforts to re-focus its priorities on comprehensive health education programs throughout the nation and world.
It is the tradition of where our current professor, Dr. William Yarber, who was recently named a Provost Professor at Indiana University, is leading efforts among researchers to study a self-guided, home-based intervention to improve condom-related sexual experiences, attitudes, and behaviors. His work has led to the development of a new FDA approved male condom which is helping to protect against the spread of sexually transmitted infections among thousands of users.
It is the tradition of professors Bill Ramos and Sarah Young who reached out across the globe to make friends and connections to show others that we can work together, and use the joy of sport to promote health, and to campaign against drug addiction and sexually transmitted diseases in third world countries.
It is in the work of Dr. Michael Hendryx, campaigning to clean up the atmosphere, and in mining towns, and to reduce rates of disease from particle exposure. Dr. Hendryx has spent his career researching environmental health disparities and will soon be expanding his work to Australia after being named a Fulbright Distinguished Chair in Multiple Disciplines, the most prestigious appointment in the Fulbright Scholar Program.
In each case, these people did well but they also did good. Yes, Dr. Hendryx did well when he won a distinguished chair from the Fulbright foundation. But more importantly he did good when he campaigned using his scientific knowledge to enhance people’s health.
And it is not just our faculty, but our students who are all here now and those beyond, who go on to do good. It is our recent student, Michaela Cisney who founded a nonprofit organization called Priyam Global that supports mothers of children with disabilities in developing nations. Her organization aims to catalyze lasting and sustainable change in these countries through a context of shared passion, resources, and vision. Priyam Global partners with community organizations directly to serve children affected by disability, and work alongside their efforts.
And finally, it is one of our graduates, Laura Kelly, and the new governor of Kansas – she has the chance to make that impact; we will watch her over the next four years as governor and we will see how she not only does well but does good.
There are in life endless streams of moments to do good.
And for you sitting here today, you have many moments ahead of you. President Barack Obama said, “this is our moment.” This is your moment, and every moment ahead is another chance. It is another chance to do good. Seize those moments, make a difference, do not settle for good enough, do good, make a difference in the world, help others even if it is in a small way. President George H.W. Bush, who passed away a few weeks ago, captured this spirit when he spoke of a thousand points of light. One kind hand given out to one person in need of help. One bit of help from an athlete or an athletic trainer who serves as a mentor to others. One discovery that you may make as a scientist as your career progresses that may help generations to come. One bit of good given to one person, one adolescent that you advise who doesn’t get a sexually transmitted disease because of your advice — because of your reaching out. One bit of help that you give to one student who do not drop out of school because of your outreach. Or one new program you set up that helps millions. These are all within your grasp — go and do good. Follow the tradition of those who have come before you.
We know you will continue to make us proud. We are proud already. We know you will continue to make your parents proud. We know they are proud already. We hope you are proud today. We see your faces glowing with pride as I look out over this podium. As you come across the stage, your parents, your friends, your loved ones will be similarly beaming with pride. Remember these moments and push yourself, strain yourself, work hard to not just do well going forward, but to do good. This is what you have been prepared for. This is what you can accomplish.