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Graduates from Old Dominion University have something others would give anything for, NBC newsman Tim Russert said Saturday during commencement exercises at Old Dominion's Foreman Field.

"You believe in something - in your family, in yourself, in your values," Russert told the approximately 2,400 graduates and 13,000 of their family and friends. "Remember the message our parents and grandparents and teachers repeated and repeated and instilled in us - a belief if you worked hard and played fair, things really would turn out all right.

"Before all else - congratulations. You finally made it. But you didn't do it alone."

The commencement was the final one for James V. Koch and Jo Ann M. Gora as university president and provost, respectively. Koch is returning to teaching and Gora was appointed chancellor of the University of Massachusetts - Boston.

Russert said he considered lecturing to the graduates about the coverage of presidential elections, but thought better of it.
"Television news has a very hard time with complex issues," he said. "We sometimes over-simplify things and make incorrect projections. David Brinkley says if Moses came down from the mountaintop in 2001, television news would report it the following way: 'Moses came down from the mountaintop today with the Ten Commandments…here's Sam Donaldson with the three most important'."

Russert said he was the first member of his family to attend college and received his degree from John Carroll University in Cleveland, "a school where I received an extraordinary education. And so, too, do you.

"You chose a school that was different and you made the choice deliberately. The education you've received at Old Dominion isn't meant to be the same as you could have received at a score of colleges public and private in this state across the country. You've been given an education that says it's not enough to have a skill; not enough to have read all the books or know all the facts. Values really do matter. This state, this national, this world now needs you."

Old Dominion's graduates should be proud of their degrees, Russert said.

"The values you have been taught, the struggles you have survived and the diploma you are about to receive have prepared you to compete with anybody, anywhere," he said. "Reject the conventional wisdom that success is only for the rich or the privileged or the Ivy-League-educated. Don't believe it. I didn't.

"You were born to be players in this extraordinary blessing called life. So go climb that ladder of success and work and live in comfort. And enjoy yourself. You earned it. For that is the American way and the American dream."

This article was posted on: May 5, 2001

Old Dominion University
Office of University Relations

Room 100 Koch Hall Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0018
Telephone: 757-683-3114

Old Dominion University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action institution.