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2022 Honors Convocation

Sunday, March 27, 2022.

Indiana University confers upon its most academically distinguished IU Bloomington undergraduates the designation of Founders Scholar, and they are honored at this annual event.


Address to Founders Scholars

Here at Indiana University, students like you are at the center of the universe. You are the reason we exist as an institution, and we want to do all we can to ensure that you succeed while you are here and that you gain the skills you need to go on to successful and rewarding lives and careers.

Our Founders Scholars and the other distinguished students being honored today are among the best and the brightest Indiana University students, and in this, my first academic year as president of IU, I am so pleased to congratulate all of you on your remarkable achievements.

You have earned university, national, and international honors through the dedicated application of your individual talents and your sustained commitment to academic excellence. On your way to becoming honor students, you have had the guidance of our outstanding faculty, the assistance of our superb staff, the encouragement of your fellow students, and, last but by no means least, the nurturing support of your families and friends.

Today, we celebrate your success.

You are engaged in a wide variety of activities that form the basis of academic excellence at IU.

One of those activities is research. Many of you work closely with faculty mentors on research that makes vital contributions to the campus and to the world.

Research is one of the core functions of Indiana University and it is a critical process in all our lives. Research advances knowledge. It helps us find solutions to problems and helps all of us to better understand how the world works.

And, in the words of the late Charles Vest, who served as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the weaving together of teaching and research in research universities like IU “brings freshness, intensity, and constant renewal.”[1]

At IU, as students and faculty engage in activities that advance their—and our—understanding of the world, freshness, intensity, and renewal can be found across countless disciplines.

In the humanities, many of you are absorbing and analyzing great works of world literature and wrestling with the great problems of philosophy. Others of you in the arts are soaking in the works, theories, and teachings of the world’s great artists, musicians, and performers and applying what you learn to your own unique works in the visual and performing arts. In the social sciences, others of you are engaging in work which furthers your understanding of human society and of individual relationships in society.

Many of you are earning a high-quality business education that is not only giving you the skills you need to succeed, but is also instilling in you the values and principles that will guide you in your careers and in your lives. Still others are focused with intensity on studying the history, culture, and languages of other parts of the world to gain a deep understanding of contemporary global issues.

In all these disciplines and others, scholars seek innovative solutions to problems.

The late John William Gardner was an educator, public official, and the founder of the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization Common Cause. Gardner once wrote: “In a world that is rocking with change we need more than anything else a high capacity for adjustment to new circumstances, a capacity for innovation. …Only ability and sound education,” Gardner continued, “equip one for the continuous seeking of new solutions. …We must train our ablest young men and women in the fundamental fields of knowledge… and we must equip them to understand and cope with change.”[2]

Gardner wrote those words more than 25 years ago. Today, it is truer than ever that the world is “rocking with change.” While we can’t predict with absolute certainty which skills will be needed in the years to come, at Indiana University, you are gaining the critical qualities of mind and character that will enable you to respond to the change that will inevitably come.

During your time at IU, you are not only gaining knowledge of specific disciplines, but you are also developing important qualities such as creativity, openness to new experiences, improved judgment, and an enhanced sense of intellectual and moral responsibilities. These qualities will help you develop the judgment and perspective you will need to effectively confront the complex problems of today’s—and tomorrow’s—world.

You are, without question, enormously talented students, filled with the potential to make important contributions to society.

Great opportunities lie before you. I know that all of you will value your IU education and that you will go on to use it to accomplish great things. Congratulations again on your accomplishments to date, and heartfelt best wishes for continued success.



[1] Charles M. Vest, The American Research University From World War II to World Wide Web: Governments, the Private Sector, and the Emerging Meta-university, Volume 1 of The Clark Kerr lectures on the role of higher education in society, (University of California Press, 2007), 8.

[2] John William Gardner, Excellence: Can We Be Equal and Excellent Too?, (W. W. Norton & Company, 1995), 53.

More about the Honors Convocation

Read more about and watch the broadcast from the ceremony.