Convocation and move-in day are the best day of the year at WashU. Yes, commencement is wonderful, but nothing beats the sheer energy and promise of the arrival of the new first-year students.
A great thing about being the provost is that it’s my job to introduce the faculty speaker at commencement. This year, when Chancellor Wrighton told me that Jeffery Matthews would be the speaker, I was ecstatic. I knew Jeffery because he lives on the South 40, is the Danforth Scholars Director, and was MY director in Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson. When we did the show, I learned what a great teacher he was from how well the students did in their performances (I was the bass player and mostly read my notes out of a book, but I got some direction from Jeffery as well.)
I was sure Jeffery would bring us great delivery and a dramatic speech, given his background. What I didn’t know was how well he would articulate the values of a liberal education, an urban university, and a community of scholars like that we have assembled on the Danforth Campus. This is one of the best of these speeches I have seen (and I have a lot of material to choose from). He makes it fun at the beginning and then soars. Enjoy: