Commencement Speaker Provides Advice for AU Graduates

Commencement Speaker Provides Advice for AU Graduates

12/15/18 ASHLAND, Ohio – Dr. Steven Fuller, professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, spoke on the topic, “Staying Human in the Twenty-First Century: It’s Harder Than It Sounds,” during Ashland University’s winter commencement ceremony held Dec. 15 in Kates Gymnasium.

As the commencement speaker for the event, Fuller posed the question, “So in what sense are all people created equal.”

“I would like to propose that our equality is ultimately about the degree of freedom. And I mean a freedom that gives you the right to be wrong and the right to fail,” Fuller said. “This is only possible if you are allowed to express yourself in the first place and be allowed a second chance. This is to do with the range of opportunities that are available to you. Every human is entitled to be free and how they dispose of their lives regardless of their likelihood of success.”

Fuller said that freedom is the capacity to take risks and universities are for the development of that capacity.

“There is nothing natural about how people come to want what they want. It is all a matter of training and the only question is where and how it happens. And you have to come to Ashland for that,” he added. “If you graduate from Ashland with a clearer sense of purpose than when you entered, then this university will have done its job and you will be able to go forward as an exemplary human being who has the capacity to be free in the sense of taking risks.”

Fuller said this is a matter of principle regardless of what students take their purpose to be and even if their sense of clarity arises from revolting against what they have encountered here.

“The bottom line is that you can’t have a sense of purpose unless you have faced alternatives. You are not free unless you have had the opportunity to reject alternatives that have been presented to you,” he said. “And in that respect, the value of your education amounts to your increasing capacity for rejection – rejection of the other things.

“And that means more than simply saying ‘no’ because of what you have been taught. But rather saying ‘yes’ because you can identify with a certain way of being in the world. In the end, whatever else I can say about humanity in the future, it is bound to be a movable feast. And you will be among the movers and shakers,” he concluded.

Following the commencement address, the presentation of degrees was handled by President Dr. Carlos Campo and Provost Dr. Eun-Woo Chang. A total of 801 degrees (328 graduate and 473 undergraduate) were awarded in the winter 2018 ceremony, including 2 doctor of education, 1 doctor of nursing, 91 master of education, 187 master of business administration, 44 master of arts, 3 master of science, 48 bachelor of arts, 37 bachelor of science, 23 bachelor of science in business administration, 37 bachelor of science in education, 104 bachelor of science in nursing, 1 bachelor of music, 1 bachelor of fine arts and 222 associate of arts.

Ashland University, ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category for 2018, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University ( deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###