UNL awards 2,800-plus degrees in historic ceremonies
Harvey Perlman gives final address as chancellor
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln granted 2,816 degrees during historic commencement exercises May 6 and 7. Full list of graduates
Harvey Perlman delivered the undergraduate commencement address at Pinnacle Bank Arena in his final event as UNL chancellor, saying that it was a sort of graduation for him as well but noting the differences.
"You are, for the most part, at the beginning of your careers. There are grand opportunities, significant challenges and no doubt uncertainties ahead for you," he said. "For me, I can pretty much see the full trajectory of my life. There may still be surprises, but at my age, they are far less likely.”
Chancellor-Elect Ronnie Green will assume the responsibilities of chancellor on May 8, and Perlman will return to the law faculty. Read more about the transition here.
Perlman was named UNL's 19th chancellor in April 2001 after serving nearly a year as interim chancellor. A native of York, he earned a bachelor of arts in history from UNL and a juris doctorate from the University of Nebraska. He was a faculty member in the NU College of Law from 1967 to 1974 and was its dean from 1983 to 1998. Since 1959, he has spent all but nine years as a student, faculty member or administrator at UNL. Read more about Perlman's legacy here.
In his address, Perlman looked back on his unlikely career path. He attributed much of his success to winning what billionaire investor and UNL alumnus Warren Buffett has called the "ovarian lottery."
"I was born to parents who resided in the United States because their parents took a leap of faith and set out as immigrants to find a better life," he said, describing his family's journey as a "remarkable and largely unfathomable story."
Perlman said his parents saw no other future for their children than to attend university.
"I am told that from the age of 4, I would tell people I was going to the university," he said. "Little did they or I realize, once here, I would never leave.”
Perlman said his Nebraska upbringing, the support of his wife, Susan, and the lessons he learned from colleagues and students were instrumental in his growth.
Addressing the new graduates, he said he didn't know if his story would have any meaning to them.
“I can say confidently that whatever your story, you won the lottery because you are here, like me, about to become a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln," he said. "Whatever the path that brought you here, you have proven you have the talent, skill, education and opportunities to be successful.”
He later added: "I'm not going to tell you to keep learning, stay open to unusual opportunities, push beyond your comfort zone, embrace the diverse communities with whom you will spend your lives. I will only say to you that you are prepared to do all of these things; whether you do so is up to you.”
Art Thompson, president of the Cooper Foundation in Lincoln, received the Nebraska Builder Award for outstanding service to the state and UNL during the undergraduate ceremony.
Timothy Carr, department chair and the Jean Sundell Tinstman Professor of Nutrition and Health Sciences at UNL, delivered the address at the graduate and professional degrees ceremony May 6 at Pinnacle Bank Arena.
Lyle Denniston, legal journalist, professor and author, addressed the law graduates May 7 at the Lied Center for Performing Arts.
The May graduating class includes 116 new doctors, 397 new master's degree holders, 111 new law degree holders and 2,192 new baccalaureate degree holders. UNL has awarded 277,171 degrees since it was founded in 1869.