Remarks upon receiving Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

Marsha Palmer '68 Link

May 24, 2009


President Switzer, distinguished faculty and guests, graduates, family and friends.

It is with great honor, humility, and joy that I accept this degree. What a privilege it is to be here with you today for this celebration!

Each year that passes, I am reminded that who I am is, in large part, defined by the relationships I hold, both now and in the past. My husband, Bill, of 42 years, my son and daughter, and the extended family who are with me today, have major impact on me. But, Manchester College and the persons with whom I interact, both now and during my student days, have had, and continue to have a large, positive influence too.

My experiences at Manchester College opened many doors for me. Among the most prized ones were:  learning how to think critically, understanding that asking the question is perhaps more powerful than delivering the answer, that in diversity there is strength, that peace is possible, and that having a safe, yet stimulating environment fosters not only the attainment of knowledge, but the exploration of self.

These experiences have led me to adopt a philosophy of life-long learning and continuous improvement. And, as my bio suggests, earning my first doctorate only a few years ago, is testimony to that philosophy. To the students who are about to become graduates, I suggest that “learning” comes in many forms. However, as Manchester’s mission states, it is the combination of ability and conviction that creates the opportunity for us to maximize our contributions, not only to ourselves, but to others.

I want to conclude by sharing two favorite quotes that are inspirational to me. One is from Margery Williams, who achieved lasting fame at the age of 41 when her children’s book, The Velveteen Rabbit, was published in 1922. The other is from Martin Luther King Jr., truly an amazing man of ability and conviction who has had enormous impact. Ms. Williams’ words from the Velveteen Rabbit echo my thoughts about life-long learning. She wrote: “It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time.” And from a speech by Dr. King: Life’s most persistent and urgent question is “What are you doing for others?”

May the ability and conviction you have gained at Manchester College through your relationships with others – whether you are a student, parent, family member or friend – provide the foundation for each of you to become all you were created to be!

Thank you very much.