Hall of Fame coach stirs UofP at commencement

By University of Portland

Legendary football coach Lou Holtz mixed humor with inspiration in addressing a record 803 undergraduates participating in the 2012 University of Portland spring commencement exercises on a sunny Sunday afternoon at the Earle A. and Virginia H. Chiles Center on campus.

Holtz’s complete speech is available on YouTube here

“You’re looking at the only guy in the world who’s written more books than he’s read,” noted Holtz, the author of 10 books and currently a college football analyst for ESPN. Holtz receive d an honorary doctorate as part of the school’s 111th commencement.

Holtz was honored for his storied career, which includes coaching both collegiate and professional football. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, he is the only coach to ever lead six different programs to bowl games, and he also coached the New York Jets during the 1976 season.

A sought-after inspirational speaker, Holtz outlined for the new graduates three rules he uses to guide his life. “Do the right thing. Do your best. Show people you care.”

“God did not put us on this earth to be average,” noted Holtz, whose 1988 Notre Dame team won the NCAA national championship. “He put us on it to be as good as we possibly can.”

“Everybody needs something to do – something you’re passionate about,” he said. “Everybody needs someone to love. Everybody needs someone to believe in, and everybody needs something to hope for. And what you hope for is what motivates your life.”

More words of inspiration from Holtz: “Wherever you’ll be 20 years from now, 40 years from now, good or bad is because of the choices you make. There isn’t any problem in this world we can’t solve – sexism, racism, poverty – if enough people care.”

He told the undergraduates they will often be asked three questions: “Can I trust you? Are you committed to excellence? Do you care about me?”

Other advice to his students was a mix of common sense and humor:

“You want to be happy for an hour, eat a steak. You want to be happy for a day, play golf. You want to be happy for a week, go on a cruise – going on a cruise is like being in jail except you have the chance to drown. You want to be happy for a month buy a new car. You want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. You want to be happy for a lifetime, make sure you add value to other people’s lives.”

University of Portland president Rev. E. William Beauchamp, C.S.C., also addressed the new graduates, with words of inspiration.

“It is up to you whether you will make a positive difference in the world,” said Beauchamp. “Your special years here at UP must not be in vain. I pray that it will always be a place at which your mind and your heart are forever touched.”

Beauchamp encouraged the graduates to “be bold enough to be moral leaders. If our world is to change for the better, you cannot leave it up to someone else.”

“My prayer for you this day, for all of you, is that you will not accomplish all of your dreams because you dreamed too little,” he added. “I pray that you will be committed to building a new and better world, and that you will work to your dying day to accomplish it.”

“Finally,” he concluded, “I pray that you will always have a special place in your heart for our university, your university, and you will return home to the Bluff often.”

Also receiving honorary doctorates Sunday were Sister Rita Ferschweiler, S.P., a longtime figure in the Providence Health community; John Heily ’67, president and CEO of Continental Mills, Inc.; Rev. Tom O’Hara, C.S.C., who recently concluded a 12-year term as president of King’s College in Pennsylvania; and Kay Toran ’64, president and CEO of Volunteers of America Oregon.

Rev. David Tyson, C.S.C., who is concluding his tenure as provincial of the Congregation of Holy Cross’s United States Province in the summer of 2012, was awarded the University’s highest honor, the Christus Magister Medal.

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