[The following is Dr. Cotton’s 2014 Commencement Address. The speech, which is the exclusive property of Willard College and may not be reproduced without prior permission, has been redacted because of copyright and liability considerations. Questions concerning this should be directed to Trumbull Schtark, legal counsel to Willard College]
Welcome Board of Trustees, Deans, Associate Deans, Students, their Families, [ , ], Faculty, Staff, and Security Personnel, and [ ]. And thanks to everyone who made the Triumph of the Will Commencement exercises such an exciting way to end the academic year. Have all the bonfires been put out?
Willard College has always been about more than an education in the traditional books and papers sense of the word. Your four to seven years here have been about relationships. From the moment you had to learn the names of the three bunk mates, plus the additional 10-14 room-mates so you could develop a rotation system for using the bathroom, you have been building and nurturing relationships. But relationships sometimes end, so I hope one that ends for you will not be the one with Willard College
But speaking of relationships ending, this seems like an apt moment to announce that Cheryl Tina Faye Cotton, my wife of six years, has filed papers to divorce me. It is not of small consequence that her legal request coincides with the move of Provost Gauleiter to Sylvester University, as the now-former provost had been my wife’s lover for the past five years. This according to Professor [ ] and the [ ]. I wish both of them the best in the future life together. [ ]
This morning, you emptied your dorm room, and perhaps after you had packed up the car or minivan, you went back to take one last look at the room that holds all those memories. I know how you feel. When I got back from a fundraising trip to [ ] last night, I opened the door to an empty house. Other than the divorce papers, a mattress, a kitty litter box, [ ]and six garbage bags filled with my clothes, the house is empty. This morning, I realized that even the window treatments are gone! Life will throw you curve balls.
Attending Willard College came with a financial commitment, one that you are now about to start paying for. At last estimate, [ ]% of Willard’s graduating class owe the equivalent of what they will earn in [ ] year[ ], assuming they can find [ ]. I feel it. During the last four years, Cheryl Tina Faye had steadily moved [ ]% of our savings and assets into off-shore accounts in her name, thanks in part to a class project sponsored by Professor [ ] of the Department of Economics right here at Willard College! Kudos, by the way, to following students who worked on the project: [ , , , ].
The oldest joke in the commencement circuit is “get ready to move back to Mom and Dad’s basements, assuming they still own a house, haven’t gotten divorced, or aren’t renting out all of the rooms.” I am with you. I’ve got to be out of Cheryl Tina Fay and Provost Gauleiter’s house by tomorrow morning at Noon. Back to taping “Stay away from my cheese sticks.” It is all good.
My advice, after decades of work in higher education? Tape your name to your cheese sticks, check your bank statements every week, and watch your back. Now go out there Class of 2014 and be the change you want to be!