My Temple University commencement speech

Four months ago I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia.

I was honored enough to be named student commencement speaker. Read text of the speech here.

Only now have I gotten video of my speech online. Have a watch below.


Alumnus and Board of Trustees member Bill Cosby spoke also, after a four year hiatus from Temple commencements – after more than 20 years as the school’s featured speaker. Former University President Peter Liacouras first brought him into the fold, sexual harassment allegations pushed him out, and – I like to think – a commentary piece written by my friend Sean Blanda brought him back. He makes sure to get a laugh at my expense, watch that.

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I submitted to Newsweek a piece on meeting and warming up the crowd for the Cos – it was rejected, but why shouldn’t I force you to read it, too?

Bill Cosby told me I shouldn’t worry. No one was going to remember anything I said anyway.

In May, I graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia and was honored to address my peers and their families as our student commencement speaker. For my portion, I urged Temple graduates of 2008, in addition to those of the past and those yet to come, to stand by our obligation to leveraging our intellectual capital in the communities that surround the university’s Main Campus in central North Philadelphia.

Temple’s gift is that it is surrounded by neighborhoods that aren’t as near to any other university as large and as influential. I hope my fellow graduates and I remember and forever appreciate that, I said.

Cosby – the seminal 20th-century entertainment icon turned controversial race commentator – addressed my fellow graduates after I did.

“I told Wink,” Cosby said to nearly 10,000 new-alumni and family members. “Wink, don’t give that speech. Nobody’s going to remember a thing you said, Wink.”

He told me something similar before we went on.

“Nobody will even be listening,” he assured me. Read the rest here.

Indeed, the university’s commencement was great – better than my individual College of Liberal Arts event – not only because of Cosby or even the privilege of addressing my fellow graduates, but being in our school’s basketball stadium – the Liacouras Center – with 8,000 people, and all the excitement that Temple graduations have come to represent.

A great way to end a memorable and important time of my life.