Beloved Physics Professor Speaks at Graduation Ceremony
Published on May 13, 2012
More than 4,500 graduating students, parents and guests attended Susquehanna University’s 154th commencement ceremony on May 13, when nearly 500 students were awarded degrees. The event took place at 2:30 p.m. in the field house of the James W. Garrett Sports Complex.
Featured speaker Fred A. Grosse, Susquehanna professor of physics (now professor emeritus) and the longest-serving faculty member in the university’s history, told graduates that perseverance is the key to success.
“Don’t think about the score, salary, rewards, winning or losing,” Grosse said. “Just keep on playing.”
In a speech full of anecdotes and nods to Susquehanna history, Grosse made light of his record-breaking teaching tenure. “When I came to SU, there were only two students,” he said. “I can still remember their names—Adam and Eve.”
Grosse saluted graduates’ mastery of technology and lent perspective to the speed of change. “I taught the first computer course here in the late ‘60s,” he said. “We wrote FORTRAN programs on punch cards, threw them in a bag, and a math teacher who lived in Lewisburg took them to Bucknell, where they were run through the computer and returned by automobile.” Grosse went on to explain that his early adoption of computer science later aided his NASA-funded studies of planetary and lunar atmospheres.
Grosse thanked graduates’ parents in the audience, saying “You’ve paid me all these years to work at the best job in the world.” He concluded his remarks by leading a rousing cheer for Susquehanna and with a final “Class dismissed!”
University President L. Jay Lemons and Signe Gates, vice president of the Susquehanna University Board of Trustees, also addressed the graduates and their guests.
Lemons reminded graduates of how the world had changed since they’d arrived at Susquehanna four years ago. “You witnessed the election of the first African-American president in the history of the United States,” he said. “Your college years brought forth the birth of the tea party and the Occupy movement. You also witnessed the last combat troops leaving Iraq, and the long hunt for Osama bin Laden come to an end.”
Lemons challenged the Class of 2012 to continue expanding their minds and experience. “To be truly educated, you must give yourself wholly to the process of learning,” he said. “So be curious. Seek answers to questions. Share your knowledge with others. Your education isn’t ending; it is truly just beginning.”
Grosse was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, along with James G. Apple, former president of Butter-Krust Baking Co. in Sunbury, Pa.; and John B. Apple, retired vice president of Butter-Krust Baking Co. and emeritus member of Susquehanna’s Board of Trustees. A fourth honorary degree will be awarded at a later date to Lucille M. Arthur, widow of emeritus Susquehanna board member and alumnus Douglas E. Arthur, as Lucille was unable to attend the event.
Karen M. Jones