Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s remarks at Fordham’s 164th Commencement on 16 May, 2009:

Thank you, Father McShane, and good morning, everyone! I can’t hear you, Good morning! That’s better.

Let me start by saying how extremely honored I am today to be receiving an honorary degree. My mother always wanted me to be a doctor.  And my father, if he were alive, would never have believed I got any degree.

Mayor Bloomberg photo by Chris Taggart

But still, it is a thrill for me to be standing here today in one of the city’s premier universities. And on the very same campus whereA Bronx Tale, Quiz Show, Love Story and The Exorcist were filmed. And more importantly, the alma mater of Denzel Washington… Vince Lombardi… and Captain Kangaroo, although then he was just Junior Lieutenant Kangaroo.

I look out into the crowd, I will say I see so many shining faces.  Either you’re beaming – or you’re still glassy-eyed from spending last night at Mugsy’s on Arthur Avenue. That’s okay.  You have a lot to celebrate.  But before I go any further, I’d like to recognize another special group:

Your parents and relatives, who are sitting out there this morning. They are beaming proudly, not even thinking about what it cost to get you to this day, or what happens if you can’t get a job and have to move back home.

Nevertheless, I’m very optimistic about the Fordham Class of ’09 – whether you’re going on to graduate work or go directly into the work force. You’ve had a truly great education in the most exciting and stimulating city in the world. You’ve gone to a legendary institution that this year alone produced 13 Fulbright Fellows!

And, perhaps most importantly we’re standing where you got to see U2 put on a free morning concert!  I know why you’re clapping—that involved two favorite student activities – staying up all night and having classes cancelled.  Now that’s “a beautiful day!”

Normally, this would be the point in my speech where I’d impart some indispensable words of wisdom that will serve you graduates well for the rest of your lives.  But I’m not the official commencement speaker today – Tom Brokaw is.  I know, it’s easy to get us confused – the looks, the voice, the height.

So what I’m going to do is save my 125 rules for success for another time. I’m not going to tell you right here the secrets to success… although it never hurts to be the first one in in the morning – and the last one to leave.

I am not going to tell you how to choose a career. But it doesn’t hurt to pick that first job based on how much you’ll learn not how much you’ll earn.

And I’m certainly not going to tell you how to avoid getting fired because I have been fired and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I am not I am not going to tell you how to spend your free time, although I will say there’s nothing more important than giving back to your community.

I am not going to tell you where to live or where to work. But in case you were wondering, there’s this wonderful town along the Hudson with a great school named Fordham, and – from what I’ve heard – a really cool mayor.
So I’m not going to tell you any of those things… but I will give you the single most important piece of advice that I’ve learned. It has served me well every day of the last 67 years:

Six simple words…  Don’t forget to call your mother! Stick to that promise and you’ll do great. Congratulations to you all on this wonderful day.


Bob Howe | Senior Director of Communications Office (212) 636-6538 | Mobile (646) 228-4375