National University

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Ben Stein Addresses Graduates at San Diego Commencement

National University's commencement speaker in San Diego this year was a speech writer for President Nixon and legal counsel for President Ford. He has served as an economist for the Department of Commerce and a lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission.

 He was a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, and an adjunct faculty member at University of California at Santa Cruz, Pepperdine University and American University in Washington, D.C. He has even hosted his own game show on Comedy Central and VH1, but the public may still know Ben Stein best as a spokesman for Clear Eyes eye drops and as the monotonous economics teacher in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

 On Monday, May 14 Stein addressed the Class of 2012 and their guests at the San Diego Convention Center, praising National University, acknowledging the ever-present state of change, sharing some humor and emphasizing the value of education and hard work.

 "Adler? Anderson? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?" Stein began humorously by re-enacting role call from a classroom scene in the 1986 film staring Matthew Broderick. He then demonstrated his graciousness and directed a few flattering compliments to National University leadership.

 "Thank you so much for inviting me here," Stein said to Interim President Potter. "Your school is exactly what America needs right now to get people back to work." 

 The long-time celebrity, who also serves as a commentator for CBS Sunday Morning, and for Fox News, talked about his frequent exposure to Hollywood stars, mentioning neighbors such as Charlie Sheen, Nick Nolte and Barbara Streisand; but he said that the real stars on that day were the graduates.

 "We're going to need leadership, and we're going to need people who are willing to work," said Stein, extolling the virtues of education, discipline and hard work.  The commencement speaker also talked about the dramatic changes he's seen in his lifetime, including great strides in U.S. relations with China and the former Soviet Union, and astonishing progress in medicine and communication. He cited the words and vision of Martin Luther King and mentioned how far the nation has come in regards to integration and equal opportunity. 

 Stein also emphasized the value of education, and cited several humorous examples of ignorance on his former game show to illustrate just how important it is for the United States and its citizens to elevate their knowledge and enhance their cognitive abilities (on one episode, not one of his contestants could name the official language of Australia). He later published a column in the American Spectator, sharing his experiences at National University (see accompanying article).

Following Ben Stein's address, Herb Meistrich, Chairman of the National University System Board of Trustees, bestowed upon retiring National University System Chancellor Dr. Jerry C. Lee the title of Chancellor Emeritus, and announced that on January 1. 2013, the National University Library will officially become the Dr. Jerry C. Lee Library, in Dr. Lee's honor (see accompanying story).

In other honors at commencement, President Potter recognized 2012 Distinguished Teacher Award recipient: Dr. Janet Richards in a demonstration of the University's commitment to the highest quality of instruction and a celebration of excellence in teaching among National's full-time faculty. Additionally, long serving faculty members Clifford Russell, Don Schwartz and John Carta-Falsa were all honored with the title of Professor Emeritus.