CHANCELLOR’S MESSAGE – Graduation Message 2009
There can be no question that you the Graduating Class of 2009 are graduating in difficult times. However, difficult times and graduating classes of The Mico are no strangers. Difficult times have been the cradle in which the professional careers of many great Miconians have started.
The first batch of Miconians in the late 1830s graduated in difficult times. It was from the challenges of those times that John Savage rose to be the first Miconian to be Director of Education in Jamaica and to spearhead education reforms in the 1870s that were the most sweeping of the 19th century and from which all of us are still beneficiaries.
It was difficult times when Sir Clifford Campbell graduated from Mico in December 1915 and started to teach in January 1916. The world was engulfed in the first Great War of the twentieth century and Jamaica was in great distress. It was from those times that he rose to be not only a great teacher but a pioneer in the emergence of representative government being a member of the first Parliament formed in 1944 after first elections conducted under adult suffrage and later to become Speaker of the House of Representatives, President of the Senate and first native Governor General of Jamaica.
It was difficult times when Sir Howard Cooke graduated from Mico in December 1935 and started to teach at the Mico Practicing School in January 1936. The world was in the middle of the Great Depression of the twentieth century and about to embark on the second Great War. Jamaica was on the brink of the greatest period of social unrest in the twentieth century. It was from the challenges of these circumstances that he emerged not only to be a legend as a teacher but an outstanding insurance executive, politician extraordinaire and respected Governor General of Jamaica.
But Miconian luminaries of difficult times are not restricted to Sir Clifford and Sir Howard. Included in this pantheon are thousands of graduates whose deeds are recorded in the annals of just about every organisation, a sector of society and community across Jamaica and whose memories are recalled and recited in the personal histories of myriads of persons whose lives they enriched and life chances they changed.
To use the words of the College song, having ‘Breathed the Spirit of the Mico’ they went out in their time and to their generation. They lived lives that confounded the prevailing stereotypes; tackled evident social injustice in constructive ways; sustained the weak; inspired hope and striving among youth and communities who had long given up on the prospects of a different life; and defied all of these odds by their daily devotion to duty and sacrificial service beyond self.
Truth demands that we acknowledge that not all graduates of the Mico have lived noble lives. Some have gone the way of all flesh. They used the power they obtained to diminish the weak. They abused positions to which they have been promoted for personal gains. They gained wealth without producing goods or providing services of commensurate value. They projected status as a symbol of personal superiority instead of using it as a means of uplifting the families, schools, communities, and country whose sacrifices made their success possible. In the words of the College Song, they ‘Breathed the Spirit of Mico in vain’.
As you the Graduating Class of 2009 go out in your time and to your generation at the end of the decade of the twenty-first century understand and honour the Mico tradition that you now join. Plan the trajectory of your lives to engage constructively in efforts to secure social justice, societal transformation, and spiritual upliftment through sacrificial service. Strive without ceasing and depend upon God who sanctifies and blesses lives lived in pursuit of His good.
Professor Emeritus the Honourable Errol Miller