The Blissfully Succinct 1-Minute Commencement Address

Published May 14, 2010

As thousands of parents search for parking in advance of commencement here at the BU campus, Meghna interviews two grads from the Class of 1970 who walk for the first time this weekend — 40 years after a BU boycott in the wake of the Kent State shootings. BU Today produced a video story to commemorate the political turmoil in Boston at the time.

Nowadays we have something different, albeit less serious, to protest: interminable commencement addresses. Jumbo prof Barry S. Levy skips the pomp and circumstance and captures all the inspirational quotes and pithy wisdom in a joyous 60-second speech — sung to the tune of Mozart’s Turkish Rondo:

You guys are the best, I am so impressed,
You’ve written ev’ry paper, read each book, and passed each test,
You have forded ev’ry river, you have conquered ev’ry hill.

Each and ev’ry grad, thank your mom and dad,
Thank each teacher, coach, and mentor that you’ve ever had,
Give it up for all those people ’cause you know they love you still.

You have mastered all the art of science,
You have mastered the science of the arts,
You have demonstrated self-reliance,
And your sum is greater than your parts.

Now you’re on your own, but your debt has grown,
All your working life you will be paying off that loan,
As you pick up your diploma, pay your past-due bill.

JFK said you should ask how it’s best to serve your nation,
Dr. King said he had a dream that everyone was free,
Margaret Mead said a few of you could bring big transformation,
Gandhi said you can be the change that you would want to see.

Go with style and grace, you will find your place,
Ev’ry challenge in your life you’re now prepared to face,
Don’t forget your alma mater when you write your will.