Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Graduate Commencement speaker tells crowd to return to basics

Some 1,000 graduate students officially became University of Denver alumni during the graduate Commencement ceremony at Magness Arena June 5.

Joseph Saunders (BS ’67, MBA ’68), chairman and CEO of Visa Inc., delivered the Commencement address, telling the audience he would offer the graduates simple advice to return to the basics.

“What’s most important is how you feel about yourself,” Saunders said. “Respect others’ points of view and make time to give back to the community and to those in need.”

He immediately drew a laugh from the crowd as his first recommendation was to never launch a career during a recession.

Although the Visa CEO referenced the poor economy, he also said “the country is always in the market for smart and talented people.”

He noted that the graduates might have to take jobs just to earn a living, but pointed out that no path to success is always in a straight line.

Brian Worker was in the audience to support Susan Worker, his sister-in-law, who received a Master of Arts in international disaster psychology from the Graduate School of Professional Psychology.

Worker said he thought Saunders’ advice was practical for all graduates.

“In the last 10 years, we’ve lost our focus on the basics of how we’re supposed to do business,” he said. “We’re paying a price now for taking shortcuts.”

Chancellor Robert Coombe reminded the new DU alumni that they were going into the world to improve the human condition and that the success of the University is seen by the impact DU graduates have on those lives.

Saunders says he was prepared to have a positive impact on lives when he graduated from DU 42 years ago, and so are the graduates today.

“DU has always done things the right way,” he said. “It has been the cornerstone of my success.”

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