Honorary Doctorate Acceptance Speech – Edgar J. Curtis

Prepared Remarks
University of Illinois Springfield
May 13, 2017

Good evening, and thank you Dr. Williams, President Killeen, and Chancellor Koch. I am truly honored and humbled to accept this honorary doctoral degree from the University of Illinois.

As a graduate of the University of Illinois Champaign Urbana’s Executive MBA program, I am aware of the incredible academic rigor, the quality of faculty, and the enriching experiences gained through an education in the University of Illinois system. As a lifelong citizen of the community of Springfield, I have seen firsthand the growth and development of this incredible academic institution, the University of Illinois Springfield, and the significant contributions that your graduates of the past have made to our community, our region and beyond.

I can attest that the University of Illinois has been the training ground for thousands of capable, committed, and compassionate individuals, many of whom went on to pursue their careers with Memorial Health System.

As the President and Chief Executive Officer of Memorial, I can tell you that we are a stronger, more educated, and community focused organization because of the high caliber of graduates that matriculated from the University of Illinois system and became a part of the Memorial team.

The U of I academic programs provide a great service to our community by offering highly relevant, intellectually demanding, and service focused education to those seeking to better themselves through formal development. As I look out today at the graduates sitting here before us, I know the sacrifices you have made to reach today’s pinnacle. You have had long hours in the classroom, and even longer hours studying outside of the classroom. You have had family events that you have missed, and you’ve had to say no to friends when you really wanted to say yes. You have endured early mornings and late nights, you’ve taken your books on vacation, and done homework when others were relaxing. You have had to prioritize and plan your time, and you have worked hard to get to where you are today.

AND I want to assure you of one thing – it was all worth it.

With the conferring of your degree today, you will not only be holding a diploma – You are now holding a key… a key to a door that previously was locked. With that key, you have limitless opportunities in front of you. Education is the great equalizer, positioning you for possibilities in your career and in your future.

The work you have done over the past several years here at UIS has provided you with a strong base of information across all disciplines, developed your depth of knowledge in your major of study, improved your reading comprehension and your writing abilities, strengthened your critical thinking skills, and opened the doors for your future.

I encourage you to not let your learning end today, instead let today be a springboard for being a lifelong learner. Whether formally or informally, whether in your field of study or in another area, whether through experiences you go through or situations you encounter, continue to be a learner, and you will see those doors in front of you continue to open.

I am honored to share the stage with all of you today as graduates of the University of Illinois Springfield, truly appreciate the University of Illinois for conferring this honorary doctorate degree upon me, and will forever wear it with pride and humility and allow it to serve as a testament to the value of contributing to one’s community and serving in a profession with commitment and compassion.

Thank you.