Lee University highlighted its new vice president for academic affairs as the commencement speaker during Saturday’s graduation ceremony.
Deborah Murray took the position earlier this month.
During her speech, the vice president emphasized that each graduate had special God-given talent that needed to be shared.
“Every commencement speaker’s dream is to deliver a life-changing, thought-provoking riveting speech,” Murray said. “However, we all know the reality few of us remember who delivered our commencement speech much less what they said. So this is your last assignment graduates at Lee university ... to listen to the speech and try to anticipate the three points and then remember them tomorrow or at least 10 minutes after the speech.”
Murray’s three points were “You are special ... the world needs you and your gifts ... Do something great.”
To accentuate her points, Murray quoted from “my favorite philosopher — Dr. Seuss.”
She encouraged the students that they had “tremendous potential” to achieve their goals.
“Your most productive years are ahead of you,” Murray said. “We expect you to be extraordinary. I hope Lee has been a place where your gifts were discovered, recognized and fostered .. a place where you were able to grow in your abilities.”
Murray encouraged graduates to keep growing and improving their skills even after they leave the university.
“It is up to you to continue to refine your gifts, to recognize that there are people in the world who need you and your gifts to make a difference in their lives,” Murray said.
She emphasized that true happiness is not found in a quest for happiness, but in fulfilling one’s potential.
Murray herself has followed these themes.
University president Paul Conn said many of the educational studies programs the graduates had been a part of were developed by Murray.
“Debbie Murray is a Clevelander. She actually attended Cleveland High School and Lee College,” Conn said in his introduction of the speaker.
Among Murray’s honors is Lee’s Distinguished Professor award.
“Only three of our faculty currently hold that rank,” Conn said. “She is a relentless worker with an amazing commitment to get the job done.”
Murray held the distinction of being the only dean of the Helen DeVos College of Education since its inception. When she became a vice president earlier this month, Bill Estes became the second dean.