Commencement Day Address
June 7th, 2001
Former Secretary of the Treasury of the United States
I am deeply honored to be your commencement speaker today. A little over forty years ago, I arrived as a freshman at Harvard College, from a public school in Miami Beach, Florida. I remember the first day of orientation, when the incoming freshman class met together at Memorial Hall, and the acting Dean of Freshman said, as an effort at reassurance, that only 2% of the incoming class would fail out. I felt that I was providing enormous protection to the rest of my incoming classmates, because in my mind I was going to fall short so colossally as to fill that whole 2% all by myself.
In an Uncertain World: Tough Choices from Wall Street to Washington .. Bob wrote:
After graduation, I sent a tongue-in-cheek letter to the deal of admissions at Princeton, to which I had not been accepted four years earlier. “I imagine you track the people you graduate,” I wrote. “I just wanted to tell you that I graduated from Harvard summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.” The dean wrote me back, “Thank you for your note. Every year, we at Princeton feel it is our duty to reject a certain number of highly qualified people so that Harvard can have some good students too.”