Weber State University's 1994 graduates will participate in a future with unprecedented advancements in science, tech-nol-ogy and the humanities, a graduation speaker said Friday.
"And I'm pea green with envy," added Dee Ward Hock, who earli-er had received an honorary doctor of humanities degree. He is founder of the VISA credit card organization and was chief executive officer until his retirement in 1984.Also receiving honorary degrees during the exercises in the Dee Events Center were E. LaMar Buckner, businessman/politician; Barbara S. Smith, former Relief Society general president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and current president of American Mothers Inc., and retired 3rd District Judge Raymond S. Uno.
Hock, who has been recognized for business innovation that avoids "conventional wisdom," told the graduates that, given the right circumstances, ordinary people can do extraordinary things to realize their dreams.
Recounting his own maverick ap-proach-es to business, he said that for years, "I argued my convictions. Audiences smiled and yawned . . . It was a constant battle of a lamb dedicated to innovation, but often that resulted in my being simply a hunk of unemployed mut-ton."
Regardless, by applying his unorthodox philosophies, he took a "failing credit card company" and built it into a $750 trillion or-ga-ni-za-tion.
He said he asked his administrators (fewer than 2,000, who earn salaries that are "mediocre by commercial standards") to base their decisions on recollections of what other businesses had done to them or for them. They were then directed never to do to customers those things that had offended them and to always do for customers those things that had pleased them, he said.
Although the past few decades have been a period of vastly expanded ability to gather, store and share knowledge, "a revolution of even greater significance is just around the corner," Hock said.
Fledgling nano-technology will allow people to manipulate the basic building blocks of matter either to build new items or to de-con-sti-tute such things as garbage and pollutants. The ability to build up and break down atoms will "make the extraordinary possible," he said. In the process, today's technologies - which were thought to be impossible only a short time ago - will become "the absurd relics of the industrial age."
Hock predicted a concurrent "regeneration of human qualities on a scale previously unknown. I have lived through the pale precursor to that age. You, whether you realize it or not, whether you are prepared or not, will build that age. That grand adventure is yours and yours alone."
Hock said the honorary degree bestowed Friday was recompense for an earlier graduation from Weber State in 1949. When his name was called to receive an associate degree, he was visiting with friends in a hallway and missed the big moment, he said. "The moment slipped away and I had to face the devastation of my parents. I'm grateful for a second chance to get across this stage with dignity and decorum."
Student speakers also had advice for their classmates.
"To affect the quality of the day is the highest of arts," said Brett M. Chugg, who urged the graduates to use their skills and talents to generate a positive effect for both themselves and others.
Janice White, who returned to school after a decade of years lost to drug abuse and aimless living, said she came to the university drifting and afraid and left excited and ready to move on in life. Graduates take with them the "knowledge around us and within us. Education is one of the most valuable things in life."
Brent Hilvitz warned against "white picket fence dreams" and urged the graduating class not to procrastinate their involvement in looking for answers to society's problems. "Each of you has a voice to contribute," he said. "You must speak up or let others speak for you."
WSU's 105th graduation exercises saw associate, bachelor's and master's degrees bestowed on several thousand students.