Thomas S. Bozzuto
May 13, 2011
I am grateful for the opportunity to speak to you today on the first day of what will be one of the most important weekends of your life. Recognizing that before the weekend is out, you will hear a number of speeches from people far more eloquent than me, I will keep this short.
But before I say anything else, I do want to take this opportunity to congratulate you on your imminent graduation.
The substance of what I want to share with you is a simple idea. Four years ago, or five in the case of those of you with more generous parents, when you decided to come to Hobart, I suspect you thought of it as a short-term commitment. Hobart – a place you would attend for a few years, and then be done, pick up your diploma and get on with your life. Well, the idea I want you to take with you today is that you were wrong. This was not just a four-year commitment. You are Hobart men today. And you will be every day of your life.
There is a reason that we think of the college from which we graduate as our Alma Mater. It is indeed in many respects, a second mother.
We are who we are today, every one of us, because of the influence of our real mother. We have been shaped, molded and made the men we are today because of what we have learned from our mothers. And for the rest of our lives, much of what we do and what we create will be attributable to that mother.
Well, and obviously to a considerably lesser degree, this is equally true of what we learned from our Alma Mater, Hobart College. You are and always will be the product of the education you received on this campus. Your ability to think ideas and issues through, what I hope will be your desire to be perpetual learners, all comes from what you have taken away from this campus. As another Hobart grad said to me recently, you don’t leave the place when you quit the campus on graduation day, you take it with you.
But what does this really mean to you? While that’s very hard for me to say, I can tell you what it has meant to me to take Hobart with me…….
First and foremost, it has meant friendships. For example, as I stand here today, I’m planning to have dinner this evening with a fellow named Roger Hare. Roger was my roommate sophomore and junior year, and we have been friends ever since.
But Roger isn’t the only one. Your Athletic Director, Coach Hanna, was the first person I met when I came to Hobart. Heck, he helped my father, my brother and I unpack my car, and then turned out to be my freshman year roommate. Well Mike became one of the best small college AD’s in the country, and he and I have been friends for almost half a century.
But taking Hobart with me has meant more than friendship with those with whom I graduated; it has also meant having a network of other Hobart grads who can be helpful or who you can help or who can just be friends. For example, the very first insurance policy I bought for my family, and one I maintain to this day, I purchased from a Hobart grad. And the last investment fund into which I put some money was overseen by yet another Hobart man. And through my board work here I’ve made many friends with other Hobart grads, maybe the most significant of which has been with a fellow named Tom Poole, who graduated a number of years before me but who has become one of my closest friends.
For me, taking Hobart with me has meant staying involved with the Hobart community by going to the gatherings in the city where I ended up living and looking for ways to work with or help out other HWS grads. Long before I was blessed with the good fortune that has allowed me to give in a serious way financially to the school, I tried as best I could to participate in the life of the school. I was a class correspondent for the Pulteney Street Survey; I chaired my class giving in an early capital campaign, I was my class reunion chair and I have always tried to recruit prospects to the school. And now that I can, I have actively sought out Hobart grads to my company. With this year’s class, we are now up to about a dozen who work with The Bozzuto Group.
But this is not about me. I have told you what I have done to help you understand what you can do. And I encourage you to do what you can to stay involved.
And at least part of your helping out is in your self-interest.
First, and you have known this since your first Thanksgiving break as a freshman, to the rest of the world, wherever you go, and for the rest of your life, you will be known through your association with Hobart. Everything you do to make this place better therefore, everything you do to help out the school or a fellow graduate, every dollar you give to make the place better, will come back to you with the enhanced stature of being a product of a truly fine school.
Then of course, there is the more important reason you should stay involved and do these things. Just as you care about your mother, you should care about this place. You are who you are because of the people you came in contact with here, the education you got……. and the nurturing environment that this place so uniquely provides. And just as you will look in on and help your mother out, you should do the same with this, your Alma Mater.
You will hear a lot of speeches this weekend so let me stop now. But again, I want to close by congratulating each of you. This is your weekend, you’ve earned it. Be proud of what you’ve done. This is a very special place and it doesn’t just pass out diplomas to anyone. Congratulations! And thank you.