U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige Delivers
UConn Commencement Address
By Sherry Fisher, Office of University Communications<
STORRS, Conn. -- U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige urged
support for President George W. Bush's proposed educational reforms
during his address at the University of Connecticut's 118th
More than 3,200 students were awarded undergraduate degrees
during twin ceremonies held in the morning and afternoon at
Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.
Paige said Bush has made education the priority for his administration
and urged the graduates to support his efforts.
"The president's plan to reform education in America was the
first proposal put before the Congress. The president is deadly
serious about this goal and he solicits your cooperation and all
Americans' cooperation, because this is indeed a goal that has an
impact for all of us."
He compared Bush's education plan to President Kennedy's goal,
announced 40 years ago, of sending humans to the moon by the end of
"President Kennedy adopted the goal of putting a person on the moon
and returning him safely. President Johnson adopted the goal of the
Great Society. WHen we put this president's goal - no child left
behind - [beside] those goals...putting a person on the moon and
returning him safely may be a piece of cake."
In other remarks, Paige described the university faculty as heroes.
"Your tireless efforts will be held dear for many years to come,"
he said. "I still remember with great affection, the teachers and
professors and coaches that provided me with the inspiration that I
now have. They are now, and will forever, be heroes for me."
The university faculty, he said, will be heroes "for the graduates
Paige told students to show the world what they have learned at
"If you meet a person who is not familiar with this great
university and the quality of the education here, show them that
you confront challenges and that you care about yourself," he said.
"Show them that yu care about yourself mentally and spiritually.
Show them that you care about your body physically. Show them a person
who is a life-long learner. In other words, show them a typical
Acknowledging the families, friends and supporters of the graduates,
Paige said "How proud you are and how proud you should be. We
understand your feeling today. We know you've been waiting to exhale
for some time. And so, you can now take a big sigh of relief. It has
actually happened and you are to be congratulated."
He encouraged the graduates to use their education to help
"You are the salt of the earth. Your knowledge and wisdom to
sustain the people of your family and your neighborhood is clearly
there. Use the gift you've been given and the light of education to
cut through the darkness of ignorance," Paige said.
Paige was superintendent of schools in Houston, Texas from 1994 until
assuming the highest education post in the nation in January. He
served for a decade as dean of the College of Education at Texas
Southern University, where he established the university's Center
for Excellence in Urban Education, a research facility that
concentrates on issues related to instruction and management in
urban school systems.
May 2001 Releases
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