哈佛校长给本科毕业生的毕业演讲 PDF 打印 E-mail
2010-06-16 17:06


哈佛2007年2月11日宣布并于7月份正式上任的校长Drew G. Faust

Drew G. Faust是哈佛历史上第一位女性校长,第一位非哈佛毕业生校长,杰出的历史学家

Baccalaureate address to Class of 2008

The Memorial Church
Cambridge, Mass.
June 3, 2008

As prepared for delivery

In the curious custom of this venerable institution, I find myself standing be
fore you expected to impart words of lasting wisdom. Here I am in a pulpit, dr
essed like a Puritan minister — an apparition that would have horrified many
of my distinguished forebears and perhaps rededicated some of them to the exti
rpation of witches. This moment would have propelled Increase and Cotton into
a true “Mather lather.” But here I am and there you are and it is the moment
of and for Veritas.


You have been undergraduates for four years. I have been president for not qui
te one. You have known three presidents; I one senior class. Where then lies t
he voice of experience? Maybe you should be offering the wisdom. Perhaps our r
oles could be reversed and I could, in Harvard Law School style, do cold calls
for the next hour or so.


We all do seem to have made it to this point — more or less in one piece. Tho
ugh I recently learned that we have not provided you with dinner since May 22.
I know we need to wean you from Harvard in a figurative sense. I never knew w
e took it quite so literally.


But let’s return to that notion of cold calls for a moment. Let’s imagine th
is were a baccalaureate service in the form of Q & A, and you were asking the
questions. “What is the meaning of life, President Faust? What were these fou
r years at Harvard for? President Faust, you must have learned something since
you graduated from college exactly 40 years ago?” (Forty years. I’ll say it
out loud since every detail of my life — and certainly the year of my Bryn M
awr degree — now seems to be publicly available. But please remember I was yo
ung for my class.)


In a way, you have been engaging me in this Q & A for the past year. On just t
hese questions, although you have phrased them a bit more narrowly. And I have
been trying to figure out how I might answer and, perhaps more intriguingly,
why you were asking.


Let me explain. It actually began when I met with the UC just after my appoint
ment was announced in the winter of 2007. Then the questions continued when I
had lunch at Kirkland House, dinner at Leverett, when I met with students in m
y office hours, even with some recent graduates I encountered abroad. The firs
t thing you asked me about wasn’t the curriculum or advising or faculty conta
ct or even student space. In fact, it wasn’t even alcohol policy. Instead, yo
u repeatedly asked me: Why are so many of us going to Wall Street? Why are we
going in such numbers from Harvard to finance, consulting, i-banking?

续,不论是我在Kirkland House(哈佛的12个本科生宿舍之一)吃午饭还是在Leverett H

There are a number of ways to think about this question and how to answer it.
There is the Willie Sutton approach. You may know that when he was asked why h
e robbed banks, he replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” Professors
Claudia Goldin and Larry Katz, whom many of you have encountered in your econ
omics concentration, offer a not dissimilar answer based on their study of stu
dent career choices since the seventies. They find it notable that, given the
very high pecuniary rewards in finance, many students nonetheless still choose
to do something else. Indeed, 37 of you have signed on with Teach for America
; one of you will dance tango and work in dance therapy in Argentina; another
will be engaged in agricultural development in Kenya; another, with an honors
degree in math, will study poetry; another will train as a pilot with the USAF
; another will work to combat breast cancer. Numbers of you will go to law sch
ool, medical school, and graduate school. But, consistent with the pattern
Goldin and Katz have documented, a considerable number of you are
selecting finance and consulting. The Crimson’s survey of last year’s class
reported that 58 percent of men and 43 percent of women entering the workforce
made this choice. This year, even in challenging economic times, the figure i
s 39 percent.

对于这个问题有多种思考和回答方式。有一种解释就是如Willie Sutton所说的,一切向“
钱”看。(Willie Sutton是个抢银行犯,被逮住后当被问到为什么去抢银行时,他说:“
Because that is where the money is!”)你们中很多人见过的普通经济学教授Claudia
Goldin 和Larry Katz,基于对上世纪70年代以来的学生的职业选择的研究,作出了差不
学生仍然选择做其它的事情。实事上,你们中间有37人签到了“教育美国人”(Teach fo
r America,美国的一个组织,其作用类似于中国的“希望工程”);1人将去跳探戈舞蹈
当中。你们中的很多人将去法学院,医学院或研究生院。但是,和Goldin 和Katz教授有据

High salaries, the all but irresistible recruiting juggernaut, the reassurance
for many of you that you will be in New York working and living and enjoying
life alongside your friends, the promise of interesting work — there are lots
of ways to explain these choices. For some of you, it is a commitment for onl
y a year or two in any case. Others believe they will best be able to do good
by first doing well. Yet, you ask me why you are following this path.


I find myself in some ways less interested in answering your question than in
figuring out why you are posing it. If Professors Goldin and Katz have it righ
t; if finance is indeed the “rational choice,” why do you keep raising this
issue with me? Why does this seemingly rational choice strike a number of you
as not understandable, as not entirely rational, as in some sense less a free
choice than a compulsion or necessity? Why does this seem to be troubling so m
any of you?


You are asking me, I think, about the meaning of life, though you have posed y
our question in code — in terms of the observable and measurable phenomenon o
f senior career choice rather than the abstract, unfathomable and almost embar
rassing realm of metaphysics. The Meaning of Life — capital M, capital L — i
s a cliché — easier to deal with as the ironic title of a Monty Python movie
or the subject of a Simpsons episode than as a matter about which one would d
are admit to harboring serious concern.

学范畴的问题。人生价值,要人生?还是要价值?作为Monty Python那部片子(指的是六

But let’s for a moment abandon our Harvard savoir faire, our imperturbability
, our pretense of invulnerability, and try to find the beginnings of some answ
ers to your question.


I think you are worried because you want your lives not just to be conventiona
lly successful, but to be meaningful, and you are not sure how those two goals
fit together. You are not sure if a generous starting salary at a prestigious
brand name organization together with the promise of future wealth will feed
your soul.


Why are you worried? Partly it is our fault. We have told you from the moment
you arrived here that you will be the leaders responsible for the future, that
you are the best and the brightest on whom we will all depend, that you will
change the world. We have burdened you with no small expectations. And you hav
e already done remarkable things to fulfill them: your dedication to service d
emonstrated in your extracurricular engagements, your concern about the future
of the planet expressed in your vigorous championing of sustainability, your
reinvigoration of American politics through engagement in this year’s preside
ntial contests.


But many of you are now wondering how these commitments fit with a career choi
ce. Is it necessary to decide between remunerative work and meaningful work? I
f it were to be either/or, which would you choose? Is there a way to have both


You are asking me and yourselves fundamental questions about values, about try
ing to reconcile potentially competing goods, about recognizing that it may no
t be possible to have it all. You are at a moment of transition that requires
making choices. And selecting one option — a job, a career, a graduate progra
m — means not selecting others. Every decision means loss as well as gain —
possibilities foregone as well as possibilities embraced. Your question to me
is partly about that — about loss of roads not taken.


Finance, Wall Street, “recruiting” have become the symbol of this dilemma, r
epresenting a set of issues that is much broader and deeper than just one care
er path. These are issues that in one way or another will at some point face y
ou all — as you graduate from medical school and choose a specialty — family
practice or dermatology, as you decide whether to use your law degree to work
for a corporate firm or as a public defender, as you decide whether to stay i
n teaching after your two years with TFA. You are worried because you want to
have both a meaningful life and a successful one; you know you were educated t
o make a difference not just for yourself, for your own comfort and satisfacti
on, but for the world around you. And now you have to figure out the way to ma
ke that possible.

定是用你的法律知识为一个公司法人卖命还是成为公众的正义化身,或是在 “教育美国人

I think there is a second reason you are worried — related to but not entirel
y distinct from the first. You want to be happy. You have flocked to courses l
ike “Positive Psychology” — Psych 1504 — and “The Science of Happiness”
in search of tips. But how do we find happiness? I can offer one encouraging a
nswer: get older. Turns out that survey data show older people — that is, my
age — report themselves happier than do younger ones. But perhaps you don’t
want to wait.


As I have listened to you talk about the choices ahead of you, I have heard yo
u articulate your worries about the relationship of success and happiness — p
erhaps, more accurately, how to define success so that it yields and encompass
es real happiness, not just money and prestige. The most remunerative choice,
you fear, may not be the most meaningful and the most satisfying. But you wond
er how you would ever survive as an artist or an actor or a public servant or
a high school teacher? How would you ever figure out a path by which to make y
our way in journalism? Would you ever find a job as an English professor after
you finished who knows how many years of graduate school and dissertation wri


The answer is: you won’t know till you try. But if you don’t try to do what
you love — whether it is painting or biology or finance; if you don’t pursue
what you think will be most meaningful, you will regret it. Life is long. The
re is always time for Plan B. But don’t begin with it.


I think of this as my parking space theory of career choice, and I have been s
haring it with students for decades. Don’t park 20 blocks from your destinati
on because you think you’ll never find a space. Go where you want to be and t
hen circle back to where you have to be.


You may love investment banking or finance or consulting. It might be just rig
ht for you. Or, you might be like the senior I met at lunch at Kirkland who ha
d just returned from an interview on the West Coast with a prestigious consult
ing firm. “Why am I doing this?” she asked. “I hate flying, I hate hotels,
I won’t like this job.” Find work you love. It is hard to be happy if you sp
end more than half your waking hours doing something you don’t.

合你的。或许你也会像我在Kirkland House见到的那个大四学生一样,她刚从美国西海岸
But what is ultimately most important here is that you are asking the question
— not just of me but of yourselves. You are choosing roads and at the same t
ime challenging your own choices. You have a notion of what you want your life
to be and you are not sure the road you are taking is going to get you there.
This is the best news. And it is also, I hope, to some degree, our fault. Not
icing your life, reflecting upon it, considering how you can live it well, won
dering how you can do good: These are perhaps the most valuable things that a
liberal arts education has equipped you to do. A liberal education demands tha
t you live self-consciously. It prepares you to seek and define the meaning in
herent in all you do. It has made you an analyst and critic of yourself, a per
son in this way supremely equipped to take charge of your life and how it unfo
lds. It is in this sense that the liberal arts are liberal — as in liberare —
to free. They empower you with the possibility of exercising agency, of
discovering meaning, of making choices. The surest way to have a me
aningful, happy life is to commit yourself to striving for it. Don’t settle.
Be prepared to change routes. Remember the impossible expectations we have of
you, and even as you recognize they are impossible, remember how important the
y are as a lodestar guiding you toward something that matters to you and to th
e world. The meaning of your life is for you to make.

才使你们自由。(英语里文科是Liberal Art,照字面解释是自由的艺术)学文科可以让你

I can’t wait to see how you all turn out. Do come back, from time to time, an
d let us know.