The following is the prepared text of remarks for delivery by Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne at the 132nd Commencement Ceremony on June 18, 2023.

Thank you, Provost Drell. And on this, the occasion of your final Commencement as Stanford’s Provost, please accept my thanks for your service to the university.

We are all grateful for your wisdom, your energy, your steady leadership, and your dedication to our university. Our students have been fortunate to have you at the helm of our academic mission through their years at Stanford. Thank you.

Graduates, today, we celebrate everything you accomplished during your time at Stanford – and we look, with anticipation, to your path ahead.

We are so proud of your hard work and many achievements, and I hope you savor this day of celebration.

Your time here has also laid a strong foundation for the lives and the careers you will build, as you leave this part of your education behind and move to the next step of your own journey.

Your years here have been marked by transformation: your own personal transformation and growth, as well as great changes in the world around us. Many of you were in your first year on campus when the COVID shutdown happened. We all learned, that year, how drastically the world can change in an instant.

But you also learned, through that experience, the perseverance and the strength of character that you each have within yourselves.

You adapted. You found new ways to pursue intellectual exploration, perform service work, and build community. You discovered new ways to connect with friends and peers, professors and mentors.

You each learned more about yourself – about your own strength of character and about your ability to achieve your own goals and aspirations, even as the world changes around you.

Now, as you leave Stanford and go out into the wider world, that perseverance and adaptability – and the passion, the skills, and the knowledge that you fostered throughout your time here – will serve you well.

During your years at Stanford, you have done the important work of discovery – in the classroom, in the library or laboratory, in our community and in communities around the world. Wherever you go next, you will bring with you that knowledge and those skills. They will provide a terrific foundation for your career and will no doubt inform your day-to-day work.

But our world needs more than your skillset, and our world needs more than your knowledge. As much as the world needs your talent, it needs your empathy. As much as the world needs your passion, it needs your compassion.

The world needs your hearts, as well as your minds.

We need young people who participate in the life of their communities, who think about the impact of their work on the broader world, and who work creatively to solve challenges and build a better future for all of us. Those, also, are things that you have learned during your years at Stanford. And you will take that empathy and compassion with you along the next steps of your journey.

Before you leave Stanford to go out into the wider world, I’d like to share three thoughts with you.

First, I encourage you to connect with others with empathy and humanity – both those you agree with, and those you do not.

At Stanford, you’ve engaged with ethical and social problems in the classroom. But as you leave Stanford, you are entering a divided world – a world with many challenging problems.

In order to make progress on solving those challenges, you’ll need to hear and understand a diversity of perspectives.

None of us knows it all. None of us has every answer or is right on every issue.

To make real impact, you will need to engage in productive conversation and to find areas of compromise, even with people you strongly disagree with.

You are all up to the task.

Each of you, during your time at Stanford, has had the opportunity to engage with your fellow students, with faculty, and with staff. You’ve had the opportunity to learn from the people around you, who hail from many different backgrounds and who embrace diverse perspectives.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hold firm to your own convictions and principles. You should!

But you also need to allow space for new information and new perspectives. Listen to others, and allow yourself the flexibility to evolve as you learn more about the world and more about yourself.

Second, I urge you to continue to follow your interests and to remain open to new paths.

I am sure many of you arrived at Stanford with a plan for how your future would look. And I am equally sure that, for most if not all of you, that plan has changed during the course of your years here, in ways large or small.

The world will continue to change and evolve, and you, along with it, will continue to grow, and change, and evolve.

During your time at Stanford, you’ve gained the tools and knowledge you will need to navigate these twists and turns, these evolutions and disruptions.

You have the tools you need to continue to take risks, to travel unfamiliar roads, and to explore your interests.

So don’t leave exploration behind you at Stanford. Dedicate yourself to continuing to learn and grow. It will lead you to surprising and inspiring places.

Third, I encourage you to find your own way to make a difference.

Think about how you can use your talents not only to further your own career, but to make a difference for people beyond you.

Our world has many problems that need to be solved. But real change requires dedicated work from all of us.

We need your talents, your creativity, and your commitment to improving our world if we are going to find solutions to the challenges we face and make our world better.

Each of you has that in you. We’ve seen it throughout your years at Stanford.

Take Ecy King, who combined her love for computer science and drawing comics to create a book that teaches kids how to code.

Or Sean Casey, who worked with friends to make Democracy Day an official academic holiday at Stanford and to enhance civic engagement here on campus.

Kellen Vu was a leader in transitioning an English language learning program for Stanford service workers to a virtual format during the pandemic.

And all of you, sitting here today on this field, have made a difference during your time here.

Whether you participated in Cardinal Service, worked as an RA or as a member of student government, or simply dedicated yourself to brightening the days of the people around you – you have all left your mark on our university.

As you leave Stanford and go out into the world, I hope you continue to take your own unique blend of talents and passion and use them to make a difference. Your dedication to others, combined with your unique skills and knowledge, can make our world better.

Introduction of John McEnroe

And that brings me to another member of our Stanford community who has used his platform and his own unique skills to make a difference – today’s Commencement speaker, John McEnroe.

John McEnroe is a tennis legend. He dominated the world of tennis in the late 1970s and the 1980s. He was ranked number one in the world from 1981 to 1984.

He won 77 career singles titles, including seven Grand Slam titles – three Wimbledon championships and four U.S. Open championships. He also won 78 doubles titles, including 10 Grand Slam titles, and helped lead the U.S. to five Davis Cup Championships.

As a first-year student at Stanford, he helped lead the men’s tennis team to the NCAA team title in 1978. In fact, this spring is the 45th anniversary of that remarkable championship. John won the NCAA individual singles title that same year, before turning pro.

He played for legendary Stanford tennis coach Dick Gould, who described him as “the best athlete I ever had … and a genius with a racket.”

He is best known for his tennis prowess, as well as for the competitive – and at times outspoken – spirit he brings to the sport.

But John McEnroe has also had a long career with many twists and turns. He has reinvented himself several times over, adapting to changes in his life and career, just as each of you will need to do throughout your lives.

He has been a broadcaster, a multiple Sports Emmys winner, a best-selling author, an actor, and a voice actor. He has also been a philanthropist, a musician, an art gallery owner, and an art collector.

Many of you may know him from the popular Netflix series, Never Have I Ever, in which he narrates the inner thoughts of an Indian American teenage girl. He has described the role as an opportunity to get outside of his comfort zone, and he’s been called the “perfect spiritual match” for Devi, the hot-headed protagonist.

John McEnroe has also used his passion and his talents to be of service to others.

He founded the Johnny Mac Tennis Project to transform young lives by removing the economic, racial, and social barriers to success in tennis. The project offers an accessible pathway into the sport for kids living in underresourced areas. It introduces tennis as a lifelong health, fitness, and social activity, and it provides a pathway for student-athletes that can lead to college scholarships and successful careers.

John McEnroe provides a wonderful example of the many paths you can take over the course of a career and of how you can use your talent and skillset to make the world brighter.

Please join me in welcoming – John McEnroe.