Jan and Jerry Keffer, honorary degree recipients

Remarks by Jan and Harry Keffer, honorary degree recipients, as prepared for the Graduate and Professional Commencement:

Jan Keffer

Wow! You made it. Look at the initials after your name. They mean a lot to you (and your family, spouses, friends). Did you have times when you thought this day was so far away, you would never get done what you had to do, and you possibly couldn’t absorb all that was required?

But you did and here you sit in the Oasis of Manchester. As you enter your professional life you have learned skill sets that will serve you well. You have learned to respect other people, to try to help them achieve their goals, to do no harm, and be just in your dealing with other colleagues.

You have learned to think about your thinking, to use evidence-based reasoning and decision-making. You have rejected opinions and beliefs that have no truth-value.

You have grown as people—physically, mentally and spiritually. You are ready to take on the responsibilities and challenges of a professional life. Now you will be taking your boards and certifications and beginning to test the realities of a working life. 

The professional life is quite different from your experiences here at Manchester. The experiences are not in a controlled atmosphere. Each day will bring new challenges, new problems that will require investigation and solutions. Your inductive and deductive skill sets you have learned will require expansion and revision as your lived-experiences warrant exploration of additional data based on those encounters. There will be ethical dilemmas that are not easily resolved. You will be exposed to people in situations who are not impressed with your credentials. Put those credentials aside and deal with the clients as people (one on one). 

Just remember you will take what you have learned here and build on that learning each and every day. I remember carrying a load of books in my backpack, encountering my major advisor in my doctorate and sassily saying “It must be nice not to have all this to do now!”

She gently reminded me that the time spent in graduate school studying, exploring and testing yourself was a blessed time. She said, “Once you get in the “real world” you will never have this opportunity.” I have thought long and hard about what she said, and she was right. The obligations of the “real world” are many and hard. But remember that you have the background of this Oasis of Manchester with you. 

Continue to explore, learn and test yourself.  We are honored to be here to help you celebrate this important milestone. Congratulations to you and your family.

Harry Keffer

Congratulations to all of you and your family and supporters. Today affirms your sense of purpose and diligence in achieving this important goal. It is axiomatic that hard work still is not only a good in itself, but additionally facilitates gaining rewards.

Your education at Manchester has provided a platform for realizing your goals as professionals.  Manchester University has also demonstrated that facts and reasoned discussion can and must prevail in solving problems, arising from differing views. You have learned that arguments over important issues are not ipso-facto pejorative. Facts can be debated without rancor and without demonizing those with whom we disagree. Regrettably, as a society we seem to have forgotten the wisdom of the Proverbs that “a soft answer turneth away wrath”. 

All these assets are important as you encounter your future clients. They will see you not only as a professional in your vocation, but as a citizen who has undergone a formal disciplined course of study. They expect and respect candor and honesty from you in your role as experts. Sadly, in today’s world these expectations of professionals are not always fulfilled. There isn’t much “black and white” in the real world. It’s mostly “grey”. 

Understanding persons as they are, not as we expect them to be, is a valuable aid in helping clients define and achieve their goals. Communication skills and a willingness to act as a concerned everyday individual and not simply as an expert will provide important additions to your professional conduct. 

If you will excuse a personal reference, I leave with you a quote from my grandmother. ‘Persons who can rule their hearts and keep their tempers down act the wiser, better parts than those who rule a town.’ 

I am confident that the studied non-discriminatory atmosphere you have experienced at Manchester University will serve you well as a trusted and often-used template as you pursue and grow in your careers.

I wish you well.

May 19, 2018