May 21, 2006 — Under cloudless skies on the University of Virginia's historic Lawn, Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine invited members of the University's graduating Class of 2006 to be adventurers in the spirit of Captain John Smith and Lewis & Clark during Final Exercises Sunday.
Kaine was the principal speaker for the event during which President John T. Casteen III conferred degrees on more than 6,000 graduates.
Inaugurated as Virginia's 70th governor in January, Kaine told the graduates that he would be at Jamestown the following day to help begin an 18-month celebration of America's 400th anniversary. Referring to the uncertain futures into which both Captain John Smith and the Virginia Company and later the explorers Lewis & Clark embarked, the governor commended to the students "the simple and enduring beauty of adventure, discovery and surprise."
"One of the greatest joys in life is not knowing what you'll find," Kaine said. "Embrace people you don't know, accept challenges you don't fully comprehend, live out stories whose last chapters haven't been written."
Referring to his own decision to take a year off from law school in order to serve as a volunteer with Catholic missionaries in Central America, Kaine said that the experience had taught him that "true happiness is found in focusing on how to use your gifts to benefit other people."
He added that there is also satisfaction in taking "a noble risk" and in learning from failure.
"Our world still needs adventurers," Kaine said. "John Smith and Lewis & Clark had new geographic worlds to explore. That will probably not be your lot. But, there are still new worlds of knowledge and research to explore. There are still new worlds of economic innovation and opportunity to discover. There are still new worlds of understanding and reconciliation between people that you can pioneer."
Robert G. Tilghman, chair of the University of Virginia's Alumni Association Board of Managers, brought greetings to the Class of 2006 from the Alumni Association.
In his remarks, President Casteen cited several graduates as examples of the diversity of interests and pursuits among the graduates.
"The founder of this University would be gratified to know how today's graduates have fared and to hear of their many accomplishments," said Casteen. "These students' distinctions make all of us confident about the state of the University and hopeful about the future of the nation and the globe."
Following the Lawn ceremony, graduates received diplomas in ceremonies held around the Grounds.