Published 05/16/15

Continue seeking truth, author David Maraniss tells graduating Class of 2015

David MaranissIn his May 16 Commencement address to the graduating Class of 2015, their families, and friends, award-winning author David Maraniss shared some of the lessons he's learned in becoming the biographer of people like Bill Clinton, Vince Lombardi, Roberto Clemente, and Wilma Rudolph.

Student accomplishments illustrate that Bryant is a university  "that not only trains, but cares."

For example, from Lombardi, Maraniss came to understand that creative freedom can be achieved through discipline; from Clemente, what it means to be a humanitarian; from Rudolph, the need to challenge racism and sexism.

“I think of stories in terms of chapters,” said Maraniss, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and associate editor for The Washington Post. "Your stories have taken you through Chapter 3, perhaps — from childhood through high school to college. ... There are still so many more chapters to be written.”

He also urged the 763 graduates to be proud of their Bryant degrees. "The percentage of students leaving here today who already have jobs is incredible,” said Maraniss. Having more than 98 percent of the Class of 2014 employed or entering graduate programs within six months of graduating is "almost an impossible perfection. That’s a reflection of a university that not only trains, but cares," he said.

Maraniss, who also received an honorary doctorate of humane letters during the ceremony, told the graduates to continue to search for truth.

“The search for truth is based on research,” he said. “Use common sense and analysis to make sense of it all.”

"Accomplished Bulldogs"

The University awarded three other honorary degrees during Commencement weekend:

  • Michael E. Fisher '67, former member and chairman of the Bryant Board of Trustees and one of the most generous alumni in Bryant's history, received an honorary doctorate of business administration;
  • Helena Foulkes, Executive Vice President of CVS Health and President of CVS/pharmacy, also received an honorary doctorate of business administration;
  • Neil Steinberg, president and CEO of The Rhode Island Foundation, received an honorary doctorate of humane letters on May 14 during the Graduate Programs Commencement at which he also was the guest speaker.

President Ronald K. Machtley told the Class of 2015 to continue their search for passion as they embark on life after Bryant. "When you leave here, your accomplishments are only just beginning,” he said. “We hope that when you walk off this stage you walk with your heads held high with confidence, because you are accomplished Bulldogs.”

In her Senior Class Charge, presenter Amanda Spaziano ’15 (Escondido, CA) called her classmates' degrees a cornerstone of success, "a single brick which will become a home ... each one unique.”

Kara Watson ’15 (Lowell, MA) said she couldn’t believe how fast the last four years have gone.

“It seemed like yesterday that I was just unpacking to move in to my dorm for freshman year,” she said before the ceremony. “Now, I’m going to finally be able to step through the gates of the Archway. It’s surreal.”

Earlier in the week

The graduate programs' Commencement was held on May 14. After receiving his honorary degree. Steinberg addressed the 94 graduates and their guests, telling them that "each of us has the ability to be a civic leader in our own way. ... It requires practice and commitment with the intent to improve the quality of life in our community. I urge you to become educated on issues, ask questions, develop informed opinions, and be willing to share them confidently.”

Twelve graduating student-athletes from the Bryant baseball and ultimate Frisbee teams received their diplomas at a special commencement ceremony held May 12. The student-athletes were not able to participate in the University’s undergraduate ceremony because they were traveling for tournaments.