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Former President of American Education Council Speaks at Commencement

(Posted May 12, 2003)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Stanley O. Ikenberry, former president of the American Education Council and former president of the University of Illinois, told Juniata students that they are entering a risk-filled world where they must rely on a personal sense of vision as well as their faith and the knowledge they accumulated during their education to navigate that world, as he delivered the commencement address at Juniata College's 125th commencement ceremony held today.

The graduating class of 282 students was awarded bachelor of arts (95) or bachelor of science degrees (187) at the ceremony presided over by Juniata College President Thomas R. Kepple.

"Before you decide to hunker down at Juniata for another four years you need to remember that risk is just a part of life; and always has been," Ikenberry said. "Our Founding Father risked their lives to create a new nation. But out of that risk came the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, a free economy and the liberties we enjoy today.

"As you launch a career there is the risk that things won't work out. As you choose that special person with whom you will spend the rest of your life, there is a risk you may drift apart," Ikenberry said. "Still, absent those risks, life would be sterile, dull and dusty, not worth living.

"The important thing is that you have gained a foothold from which you can continue to learn and grow," he added. "Your knowledge will grow and be renewed and from that you will gain a vision of how to cope with life's challenges."

After Ikenberry's speech, Juniata presented Ikenberry with an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in recognition of contributions to Juniata College. The college also awarded honorary doctor of humane letters degrees to Donald F. Durnbaugh, an author, historian and current archivist for Juniata College, and N. Unnikrishnan Nair, vice chancellor of Cochin University of Science and Technology in Cochin, India.

The 2003 Senior Class Gift is a contribution for the construction of a lounge in the lower floor of Good Hall. About 85 percent of the class contributed to the gift.

"You need more than knowledge and a sense of purpose," Ikenberry gently warned the students. "You need the faith to believe and the courage to act and those qualities are even more difficult to come by."

Ikenberry, now a regent professor and president emeritus at the University of Illinois, also is president of the Board of Overseers for TIAA-CREF, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association College Retirement Equities Fund, one of the largest financial services providers in the world.

As president of the American Council on Education (ACE) from 1996 to 2001, Ikenberry led a coalition of more than 1,200 colleges and universities and 30 higher education associations to increase public awareness of how to plan and pay for college.

Ikenberry also served as president of the University of Illinois from 1979 to 1995. In his tenure there he consolidated the University of Illinois at Chicago into the metropolitan area's largest research university campus.

Before joining the University of Illinois, Ikenberry was senior vice president for administration at Penn State University from 1978 to 1979. He also held an appointment as professor of higher education. He served as senior vice president for university development and relations and as associate director of the Penn State Center for the Study of Higher Education from 1971 to 1978.

He earned a bachelor's degree in 1956 from Shepherd College in Shepherdstown, W.Va. He went on to earn a master's degree in 1957 and a doctorate in 1960, both from Michigan State University. He also holds 13 honorary degrees and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Ikenberry told the graduating seniors "Unless you know what you believe, you will lack the passion and conviction to face life's risks with confidence. If, on the other hand, if you care deeply about something, if you care about it as much as you care for life itself, no challenge, no risk, will intimidate you."

He concluded the address by telling Juniata's graduates "Knowing what is right, believing what is right and acting on what is right; and in the process, overcoming risk, not surrendering to risk, that is life's secret."

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.