Contrary to some graduating seniors’ expectations, the
keynote speaker at Saturday’s Commencement ceremony was met
with widespread approval by the 2004 audience.
In his speech, Automobile Magazine founder David Davis Jr. said
that while the graduates have received their education in four or
five years, it took him fifty years to receive his degree.
Davis said that he measures success by being able to have fun
every day while also making a decent living. But he added that it
is also important to take responsibility for one’s own
“Every morning when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we
must say to that self, ‘Whatever happens today, my dear,
you’re responsible … You can’t hide behind your
parents, your professors, your own ignorance or the ignorance of
others,” Davis said.
He also said he wanted to humorously convey to the graduates
that there is always a second chance.
“I did everything to prevent myself from succeeding and
yet I still succeeded,” said Davis, who was awarded a
University honorary doctorate of humane letters degree at the
Some seniors had expressed concerns with the University’s
choice for the commencement speaker after it was announced in
March, but Davis said he received many positive comments from both
students and faculty afterwards.
LSA graduate Jessica Badt said she was aware of the disputes
surrounding Davis’ appearance as keynote speaker before the
ceremony but she said she thought Davis did a
“His speech was more than adequate. You don’t need a
big name to speak at Michigan if it’s a good speaker,”
But LSA graduate Adam Paterno said that, although he liked the
speech, he did not think Davis was the best selection.
In a letter to The Michigan Daily beforehand, Paterno explained
his reasons of disapproval of the University’s choice of this
“(Paterno) expressed considerable doubt about my
suitability as a public speaker, along with the concern that my
distinctly minor-league status would bring down the whole tone of
this glorious occasion,” Davis said in his speech.
Paterno said he was not directing his anger at the speaker but
rather at the University administration.
“I don’t want to hear about someone who is
successful without an education. It was not appropriate for that
type of day,” he said, referring to Davis’ incomplete
studies at Wayne State University.