IHL head implores MSU grads to dare greatly, find success

Contact: Zack Plair

State higher education commissioner Glenn F. Boyce spoke to Mississippi State graduates during spring commencement exercises Friday and Saturday [May 6-7] in Humphrey Coliseum. He told the more than 2,600 candidates for degrees to dare greatly and change the world. (Photo by Russ Houston)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Dare greatly. Change the world.

The state’s higher education commissioner instructed Mississippi State’s spring graduates to do just that as they enter the next chapter of their lives.

Glenn F. Boyce, who became the commissioner for Mississippi’s Institutions of Higher Learning in April 2015, told graduates during spring commencement exercises Friday and Saturday [May 6 and 7] in Humphrey Coliseum that those who change the world act on their intrinsic passions, have sustained focus, make a friend of adversity and take risks.

“People who change the world are passionate about their ideas,” he said. “Their wealth is born of a capacity to think; to believe they have an idea that will change the course of history. Some of you sitting here right now know exactly what I’m talking about because an idea is bubbling inside of you waiting to explode forward. To change the world, graduates, you must create.”

More than 2,600 graduates were candidates for May degrees.

A Madison resident, Boyce previously had served as the IHL’s associate commissioner for academic affairs. Before that, he led Holmes Community College as president for nearly a decade. Under his leadership, HCC enjoyed a record enrollment and gained recognition from the international Aspen Institute as one of the nation’s highest achieving community colleges.

During commencement, he stressed that graduates learn from examples like 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, renowned television personality and Mississippi native Oprah Winfrey, and Apple cofounder Steve Jobs, all of whom endured setbacks, rejection and failure on their roads to success. He said through learning from and understanding adversity, the graduates can achieve greatness.

“Never stop learning. Never stop growing,” Boyce said. “Drive yourself beyond what you expect from yourself.”

He added, “Twenty years from now, 30 years from now, I want to see one of you standing up here at this podium imploring the graduating class to change the world.”

Boyce also cited statistics from a Lumina Foundation study that show only 20 percent of the adult population older than 25 hold a bachelor’s degree, while only 11.5 percent hold an advanced degree. In Mississippi, only 13.8 percent of that population hold bachelor’s degrees and 7.8 percent have earned advanced degrees.

“It is easy, when you are sitting here surrounded by hundreds of fellow graduates in a similar cap and gown, to believe this is an achievement shared by most Americans,” Boyce said. “But this is not the case. You are the exception, not the rule.

“If we are to continue to grow as a state, we must continue to fill the chairs you sit in with much greater numbers,” he added.

Also at the respective commencement ceremonies, James L. “Jim” Rouse of Houston and J.F. “Bud” Thompson Jr. of Meridian received honorary degrees for lifetime achievements and longtime major support of university programs. Rouse received an honorary doctorate of science, while Thompson received an honorary doctorate of public service.

Rouse, MSU’s national alumnus of the year in 2012, retired in 2004 after a 42-year career with ExxonMobil, including 18 years as its vice president. In addition to receiving an industrial management degree from Mississippi State, he simultaneously was commissioned into the U.S. Army after having served as campus ROTC cadet commander. He has a long history of service to his alma mater, including as a board member and president of the MSU Foundation, member of the College of Business’ Executive Advisory Board and Bulldog Club Executive Committee. Last year, he was named to the business college’s top 100 alumni after having been selected as its 2010 alumnus of the year.

Thompson is both the owner of Insurance Solutions of Mississippi and a partner at Thompson Limited Partnerships that received the 2011 Hartley D. Peavey Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence given by the East Mississippi Business Development Corp. An MSU mathematics education graduate and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, he initially worked as a public school teacher and coach. He’s served on the boards of the university’s alumni association and as Bulldog Club president, is a longtime member of the MSU-Meridian Deans and Directors advisory Board and, in 2014, was honored by Meridian Community College with selection to its Eagle Hall of Fame.

He and his wife Sue also have established an endowed scholarship at his alma mater.

MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.