“As I entered The University in the fall of 1977, it was just 15 years after the historic admittance of Mr. James Meredith to the halls of Ole Miss. It was not an easy time in 1962, but it was an idea whose time had come. And each year since that long ago fall, 50 years ago, Ole Miss has continued to evolve into a highly competitive and impressive school of academia and diversity.
“As my son along with your sons and daughters, sit, poised to graduate and go on to pursue advanced degrees or careers in their fields of choice, they will find that their Ole Miss degree is more than a piece of paper, or a certificate of achievement, but indeed, it will prove to be an impressive calling card into the future. For they now hold in their hands, a degree from the Ivy League of the New South.
“No longer is Ole Miss looked upon with the negativity of the past, but the positive hope of a brighter future. A degree from Ole Miss says that we are truly prepared to meet the challenges of the day, and the advancements of tomorrow. We’ve earned it together with hard work and diligence, aided by encouraging, forward thinking, outstanding, and committed professors, deans, and administrators!
“50 years of integration here at Ole Miss, My son, your son, your daughter, our offsprings, are graduating into a world filled with infinite possibilities and opportunities, not because of skin color, but rather the indisputable revelation of character content. 50 years of integration, of possibilities, and of opportunities for all who come.
“Look around you, look in front of you, behind you, to your left and right! We see Ole Miss today, made possible by the struggles of yesterday. We see a future together filled with human understanding, academic growth, and love one for another.
“The Love chapter in 1st Corinthians says, ‘Love is patient; Love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.’
“50 years ago, love triumphed over hate; 50 years later, love still reigns supreme! Students enter Ole Miss, a beacon of hope for the New South, finding, not only a tolerance for all mankind, but an initiator of brotherhood! There have been many success stories since that time that started right here in these halls, initiated by the desire to succeed and aided by the splendor, wonder, and excellence that is Ole Miss. I am just one of those stories, and you here today will be the next generation of success whose stories will echo through the annals of time!
“These degrees that you have received today from the University of Mississippi, display them with pride in your halls, your homes, your offices, and on your walls, but your degree from Ole Miss, will be one that you will carry forever in your hearts. And as you depart these hallowed halls, you depart with a legacy of excellence that shall stand the test of time, both, locally and globally, as The University of Mississippi, our Ole Miss, continues to evolve and chart new destinies and new courses. And when you look back at your time of fun and learning here, you will hear her, “Ole Miss”, forever calling your name, forever reaching out to all those desiring to come, and forever imparting excellence to all who remain!
“50 years later, continuing onward, and continuing upward!
“Hotty Toddy, Y’all!”