Mary Buckley

Distinguished Teacher 1992–93

Commencement Speech

Thank you, Provost Barsam. Since I stopped teaching at Pratt only two semesters ago, I naturally think frequently of this old place, of the pull that it has exerted on my career for 37 years, of the joy with which teaching has enriched my life. Looking out at this impressive crowd, I recognize many former students as well as faculty colleagues. It’s an honor to have been chosen by them as Institute Professor and Distinguished Teacher, but it was my students who made it possible–who constantly inspired me–I daresay demanded of me–the best that I could give.

Excellence is our inspiration at Pratt. In our academic programs, we make an effort to nurture the human talent in our diverse population. We are proud of our students–protective of them when they are here with us, assured when they are out in the world that they have what it takes to make it. In his small, great book–titled Letters to a Young Poet, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke writes to a young artist who is torn between pursuing a career for money or for art. Rilke advises him: “Perhaps you are called to be an artist. Then take that destiny upon yourself, and bear it, its burden and its greatness, without ever asking what reward might come from outside. For the creator must be a world for himself and must find everything in himself and in nature, to whom his whole life is devoted.”

Charles Pratt, our founder put it similarly: “Be true to your work and your work will be true to you.” Whatever you do, be true to yourself and your art.

I welcome and salute all of you, the honors students of the class of 1993. May you believe in Velasquez, Fragonard, Matisse; in the force of design; and the mystery of color. May your hands be blessed and your lives touched by beauty everlasting. I fondly wish a creative, happy career to each and every one of you. Thank you.