I regard these few minutes I have to speak to you today as a great privilege and a high honor. It would not be accurate for me to say that I am "speechless"—because I do indeed have something I am prepared to say—but I could not find words that I felt were sufficiently adequate to express my deep appreciation for this invitation. To impart a message that might make some difference—any difference, fleeting or lasting—in the hearts, minds or lives of several hundred future leaders of America, and to do so on this occasion at this prestigious institution, is an awesome responsibility.

This occasion is special to me for another, more personal reason. As an academician and former professor who taught at the college level for seven years, I feel that being with students again is much like coming home. There is much about the academic environment that shines as a beacon for the rest of society—not the least of which is the principle of genuine intellectual inquiry—a tolerance, an openness, and indeed, an encouragement of new ideas and a wide range of perspectives.