Address by Daisy M. Soros

Presented for Doctor of Laws by Catharine R. Stimpson H’90, Trustee

unedited transcript

President Hansen, our good friend Kate Stimpson, faculty, and above all my fellow graduates of the Class of 2005:

I feel very proud and privileged to be part of today’s graduation ceremony. It is said that speech should be like a miniskirt: Long enough to cover the subject, but short enough to hold your interest [laughter]. Short I will be.

When you leave Lewiston and begin engaging the world, I hope you will begin to write your own philanthropic autobiography — an accounting of what you have received from others and what in the course of your life you have done to repay them.

The first chapter is about the great gifts you have received from family, friends and teachers. It will be a rich chapter because I know you are here because of the love, commitment and resources of others.

The second chapter will be about those unknown others who have also been generous and made it possible for you to be here today: those who endowed the library in your home town, where you first learned to love books; the many donors here at Bates, long gone, who endowed scholarships, made possible professorships and built buildings. You are the recipients of so many unknown others that it will be a long chapter.

Chapter 3 will be about your life as a volunteer, working directly to make your community and this nation a more humane place by working for literacy, voting rights, civil liberties, aid to the homeless and terminally ill and dealing with the many ills not addressed by the market or governments. This too will probably be a long chapter.

For a fourth chapter, I hope you will not only make a commitment with your time to the myriad nonprofit organizations that make our communities and world better, but also provide the governance the nonprofit world needs.

A final chapter will be about your direct philanthropy in terms of your financial resources. You have been given so much by unknown others that you should now realize that you too have an obligation to those you have not met who are not even born yet. Resources for your college, your secondary schools, your health system, your symphonies, operas, your art world and on and on — your philanthropic autobiography should be a long book.

But it should not be your whole life story, unless you are a saint! Take time out for yourself, form relationships, smell the roses, enjoy nature, travel and learn to appreciate beauty in art, music, literature and drama. There is so much out there. Try to be the full liberal arts graduate that this fine college educated you to be. Thank you, and good luck.