Commencement Remarks of Dean John A. Mattiacci: Temple School of Podiatric Medicine- Commencement 2019

     Congressman Wenstrup, Temple Board of Members, TUSPM Board Members, Honored Guests, Deans, Faculty, Family members, and Graduates, I bid you good morning, and I thank you all for joining us on this most important day. Each year I treat this ceremony as my opportunity to give our graduating class one final lecture.

     This is the 21st Commencement of the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine that I have had the honor of addressing. This year, we are graduating 88 candidates for the degree of Doctor of Podiatric Medicine. This class contains 55 men and 33 women, representing 69 different undergraduate colleges. These candidates come from 24 states and two foreign countries.

     To our Honored Guests and Families:

Each of you is important- to these graduates, to our School, and to the profession of podiatry. I thank you for accepting the invitation to join us today. Your presence is a demonstration of the esteem in which our candidates hold you.

     To our Faculty, as I say each year, Thank you. You continue to be the source of medical and surgical knowledge that creates these candidates. Your time and your skills have formed this class. You have worked with each of these men and women for four years, and today, YOU, most of all, can take pride in these men and women.

     Finally, to our graduates. Thank you. This is your day. Thank you for the last four years of your inquiry. Thank you for the last four years of your industry and thank you for the last four years of your intelligence. I must tell you that we recognize the value that each successive class of students brings to this school. Each class is new, each class is different, and each class refreshes the faculty and the school. Each class brings new energy, new ideas, and new challenges. So that you do not misunderstand, YOU are not the challenge, rather, your inquiry challenges each of us in the school. It is our answers to your challenges that form our relationship with you and your class. This Class of 2019 constitutes the highest level of podiatric physicians produced by any of our podiatric medical colleges. Each of you should be proud of yourselves, and proud of the work that you have completed in order to earn the right to sit here this morning. I know that each of you feels, today, the support of your family, your friends, that this school have given you. You deserve to be here today. You have earned it. Congratulations! Today you will leave this commencement ceremony, as doctors, and begin your residencies.

     The word Commencement is one of those great Middle English words that has gained antithetical meanings. Used as a verb, a commencement is the beginning of something new. Used as a noun, a commencement is the ceremony marking the end of your education with us. I like to think that commencement signals neither the end of your life with us, nor the beginning of your new career. I think that this commencement ceremony marks nothing more than the continuation of the path of intellectual development that you initiated here four years ago. Today, as you leave us and begin your residency, you will merely continue the accumulation of knowledge and development of skills that you began here. However, in that future, you will now bear the indelible mark of Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine.

     The late George Norlin, of Colorado, gave a “Charge” to the 1935 graduates of the University of Colorado. In his Charge, he articulated the relationship between students and their alma mater much more eloquently than I ever could. President Norlin stated:

“The University is not the campus, not the buildings on the campus, not the faculties, not the students of any one time- not one of these or all of them. The University consists of all who came into and go forth from her halls, who are touched by her influence, and who carry on her spirit. Wherever you go, the University goes with you. Wherever you are at work, there is a University at work.”

     For the rest of your life, “Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine Graduate” will be appended to your name- each time that you are introduced, each time that someone writes about you, or each time that you describe yourself. Today, you join the group of podiatric physicians that is the Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine. TUSPM is our students, our faculty, and our graduates. As Dr. Norlin stated, we are, at once, each of these components and all of these components. One cannot survive without the other, and it is this “joint and several-ness” that gives us our strength, our pride, and our energy.

     This inter-relationship with TUSPM carries with it both a benefit and a duty. You have reaped the benefits of the finest clinical and didactic education available to any student in the country today. Your duty is to continue to develop your skills and apply that education to the health and well-being of the thousands and thousands of patients that you will encounter in your career.

     There is an old saying that “Success is a journey, not a destination.” As well-worn as that saying is, it is a thought that you must always keep in the forefront of your mind. You will never achieve your goals if you fail to apply the highest standards of self-discipline, integrity, and energy to the effort.

     Each technique that you employ contains a thread of the skills that were established here in the class room. Those skills will continue to develop through your clinical experience, through your residency and through your practice. At each level they will grow and flourish. As you use each of these skills, never forget that those skills are anchored here. We want you to come back to the school often. We want to retain your presence here. We must, if we are to achieve our goal as a college, retain our relationship with you and with your practice.

     Today we have challenges in our profession. But each class of this school has graduated into a world that has challenged our profession. Historically, WE have met each of those challenges; as we will meet the challenges of today. This graduating class will face the health conditions presented by diabetic and geriatric demographics. YOU, our graduate, will work in concert with the healthcare delivery systems throughout this country in order to extend the lives- and the quality of the lives- of your patients.

     We here at TUSPM will continue to produce men and women like you. But, you must play your part.

    Abraham Lincoln once said that “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” You alone can create your future. Work hard; we have taught you how to do that. Work well. We have taught you how to do that. Maintain your skills, learn new techniques, and remain current with new advances. That is all I can say about your professional life.

     Let me now direct my remarks to your personal life. Stay involved with your family. They will always be your strength and your support. Become involved in the community. That involvement will bring you great personal satisfaction and it will also insure that you do not lose yourself in your work. And finally, become involved in your profession. We have met every challenge to the profession of podiatric medicine that has presented itself over the past century because we have had volunteer leaders who have worked with our local and national associations to advance our profession.

     I want each of you to become a leader.

     There are hundreds of definitions of leadership, but the common threads that run through the definitions are: honesty and integrity, ability to inspire others, commitment and passion, good communication, the ability to make a decision, accountability, and creativity and innovation.

    You will hear from an effective leader in a few moments, but you have to realize that you do not need to be a Congressman to be a leader. We have leaders who are working today, at every level of your profession. We have podiatric leaders in Washington, working with today’s speaker to advance legislation which will affect our profession for the next century. But we also have leaders in each state capital in the nation who are working with the various departments that govern every facet of your practice; from the design of your office, to the manner in which you prescribe medications. We have leaders who work, daily, with hospital and health system administrations to protect and promote the profession that you enter today.

     You will spend your life serving the health needs of this nation, but you cannot thrive in that profession unless you give back to that profession through your leadership. IF you become a leader, and IF we do our part, by producing more men and women like you, then, together, we can answer Dr. Norlin’s charge to maintain a professional fellowship.

     Wherever you work, we will be working, and wherever you go, we will go with you. Together, then, WE will serve our patients and benefit mankind.

     Thank you, God Speed, and come back and see us often.