President Edward Guiliano addresses and celebrates the Class of 2014 at NYIT-Nanjing, in Nanjing, China, on June 10, 2014.
Good morning, welcome, and congratulations, Class of 2014. And once again my warmest thanks and appreciation go to our friends and colleagues at NUPT for what we have achieved together.
Take a moment and look around you at this remarkable gathering. Today we are all connected; to our 321 graduates and their achievements – but also to one another, and to NYIT here and around the world.
“Only connect!” advised English novelist E.M. Forster in Howard’s End. But he wrote that over a hundred years ago. Nowadays, when we say we want to connect, we’re usually asking if the Wi-Fi is working.
Here in China, cities are connected by the world’s newest and most advanced high speed rail network. We can travel the thousand kilometers from Nanjing to Beijing in just a few short hours.
When we talk about human connection, though, we’re referring to something more personal: the kind of bond that allows us to share and exchange ideas, thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
And in this brave new digital world, we humans need connectivity as well. In order to make human connections, we need the ability to communicate with one another across global networks, and also across geographic borders, languages, cultures, and disciplines.
During your years in our NYIT program here and perhaps in New York, regardless of the profession you will enter, I am confident that you have learned the skills for both connectivity and connection.
Jiangsu’s economy already relies on technology industries. Future growth for the province is predicted to be in cutting-edge areas like biotechnology, environmental science, cloud computing, and more —all areas of expertise at NYIT. But technology is more than a skill or a tool – it is our world.
It was not always this way.
In my university days, “high tech” meant feeding a deck of punch cards to a main frame computer. Back then, university was thought to be a repository of knowledge where professors were prophets and guardians of wisdom.
Now, with a simple click, anyone can have immediate access to unimaginable masses of information.
Yet, as Einstein wisely said, “Information is not knowledge.” To which I humbly add, “And knowledge is not wisdom.”
Steve Jobs often complained about the narrow focus and limited backgrounds of his Apple colleagues. Because they “haven't had very diverse experiences,” he explained, “they don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem.”
If technology is how we connect, cultural fluency is what allows us to communicate with one another, recognizing the value of both our differences and commonalities.
Global problems like sustainability and access to clean water will require solutions that incorporate multiple areas of expertise. These solutions will depend on teams of people and clusters of ideas, often working virtually, in cross-cultural collaborative hubs that span the world. That’s why we were excited to bring together our students from New York and Nanjing at our water-energy conference in Beijing.
The human brain is a learning machine, made up of about a billion neurons making more than a trillion sometimes-unpredictable connections. Those sparking neurons – with a helpful assist from your NYIT education – have made you fluid thinkers capable of random thought and insights that can explode into innovation.
Upon graduation, many of you will begin careers in telecommunications, information technology, marketing, and government service. For others, today is a first step towards graduate school in China, at distinguished institutions like China University of Mining and Technology, NUPT, and the Communications University of China; in the United States, at top universities such as Carnegie Mellon, USC, Cornell, and—of course—NYIT; or at graduate programs in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, or the U.K.
Whether it is sooner or later, there is no doubt you all will head into careers that will morph over time—whether it be as a computer scientist… or a university president for that matter. Consider that only a few decades ago, no one was studying cybersecurity. At NYIT we have prepared you for the careers and education that exists today but also for those that have not yet appeared based upon knowledge that does not yet exist.
Employers like Google and Huawei, where some of you have been hired, seek more than technical skills. They need people who can learn quickly and synthesize different bits of information. They want employees who can work in teams, but are also “emergent leaders.” And even leaders need the humility to embrace ideas better than their own.
Your education has helped you to develop the skills you will need to succeed, both personally and professionally. At the same time, I trust that we have taught you to how fail successfully. Learning how to fail – or rather, how to learn from failure – is one of life’s great lessons.
And make no mistake: everyone, at some point, fails. It has been estimated that it takes 3,000 ideas to yield one successful product. Do keep an open mind and remain curious.
I began this speech by noting that we all are connected by this graduation day. In fact, some of you were in New York last month to participate in commencement ceremonies there.
And even as you leave our classrooms, I encourage you to maintain your connection with NYIT.
Connect with us at our networking and professional development events, reunions, and workshops.
Connect with our powerful network of NYIT alumni. You now have family in almost every nation in the world…NYIT family. Whether it is today or in 10 years, they are waiting for your call.
So, again, stay connected with us, New York Institute of Technology. With your NYIT degree you have earned the right to use a great business card respected throughout the world.
And remember, your success is ours, ours is yours.
In closing, I offer some simple words of advice: remember to think deeply, speak gently, love much, laugh often, work hard, give freely, pay promptly … and be kind.