Commencement weekend highlights

Among the weekend’s highlights was New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s homage to Carolina basketball in his Commencement remarks offering advice for new graduates by spelling out the familiar cheer, “Tar – Heel.”

Bloomberg, who founded the global financial news and information service bearing his name, summarized his message:

Teamwork is everything. Assist others. Risks are necessary. Hustle, always. Elbows occasionally have to be used. Education is a lifelong journey. Love what you do.

“And if you put that list together, it of course spells “Tar – Heel,” Bloomberg said.

The 108th mayor of America’s largest city told the graduates they didn’t need a grand plan to make their way into the world.

“Whatever plan you do have is probably going to change 100 times before you’re 30. And you don’t need to be an expert in something to try it. So what, then, do you need? I’m going to tell you, but really, all I’m going to do is remind you of a few things you’ve already learned here – just by watching Carolina basketball.”

That led to more detailed advice – which drew from Bloomberg’s experiences in college, on Wall Street, as a philanthropist, and as a public servant – pegged to spelling out “Tar – Heel.”

Bloomberg was the featured speaker in Kenan Stadium, where Chancellor Holden Thorp presided and UNC awarded five honorary degrees, including an doctor of laws to Bloomberg and a doctor of music to saxophonist Branford Marsalis. An estimated 5,683 undergraduate, graduate and professional students received degrees during Commencement weekend, which included a hooding ceremony for doctoral students.

Read Bloomberg’s speech or watch a video.

In Saturday’s hooding ceremony, speaker Marc Levoy — a Stanford computer science professor and UNC alumnus whose career achievements include developing the cartoon animation system used in “The Flintstones” TV show and launching Google’s Street View project — offered these words:

“The next part you have to do yourself. Make sure you choose a worthwhile problem. In the words of Richard Hamming: ‘If you don’t work on important problems, it’s not likely that you’ll do important work.’ Then, if you’re creative you’ll have lots of ideas. If you’re wise, you’ll discard most of them. If you’re persuasive, you’ll convince someone to pay you to work on the remaining ideas. Then, be patient and persistent. For scientists, Nature does not unlock her door easily, but the wonders inside are worth the struggle. For engineers, there are indeed new things under the sun. For scholars, the human condition is always changing, and the best, most useful words about it have not been written.”

Read Levoy’s speech.

Read more about Commencement.

Published May 13, 2012