INTERPOL Secretary General Tells UNH Graduates 'Anything Is Possible'

Thursday, May 24, 2012
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Rob Noble

Alumnus Ronald Noble '79, secretary general of INTERPOL, delivers his commencement address at the 142nd University of New Hampshire commencement Saturday, May 19, 2012.

Live life to the fullest and anything is possible were the messages delivered at the University of New Hampshire's 142nd commencement Saturday, May 19, 2012, where more than 2,800 students, including 60 military veterans, ranging in age from 19 to 75 years old and representing 29 states and 23 foreign countries received degrees.

"Make the world your canvas. Make your decisions and beliefs the strokes that will paint a unique picture, that of a life that must be yours only and never someone else's -- life lived to the fullest. Anything is possible if you want it bad enough, work hard enough, and are filled with the passion and determination to achieve it," said UNH commencement speaker Ronald Noble, secretary general of the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL).

"And hopefully, along the way, you will realize -- as I have -- that any achievement only finds its true meaning the moment you share it with your family and loved ones," Noble said.

Noble, a 1979 UNH graduate in economics, is a tenured professor at the New York University School of Law, on leave of absence while serving at INTERPOL. Under his leadership, INTERPOL developed the first global communications network allowing all 190 INTERPOL member countries to communicate in real-time and to access INTERPOL's police tools and services.

In his address, Noble advised students to surround themselves with people who are passionate about their careers, not passionate about how much money they earn. Doing so would help students find the flame that burns inside of them.

Noble also asked graduates and their families to stand for a minute of silence to remember Greenland Police Chief Michael Maloney and all officers who have sacrificed their lives to protect others.

"Representing the brave men and women in the police services of 190 member countries and devoting myself to preventing crime and tracking down terrorists and fugitives around the world are what fill me with passion," he said.

UNH President Mark W. Huddleston told students that they represent the tremendous promise of public higher education in a time when public financial support for higher education is dwindling.

One hundred and fifty years ago the idea of using public money to give the children of working families access to college was a radical innovation, Huddleston said. UNH is a land-grant college, a public university established by the Land Grant Act of 1862 whose chief architect, U.S. Sen. Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont, envisioned public colleges in each state to give working families access to higher education. By teaching about agriculture and engineering, these schools would also drive research that revolutionized America's economy.

"Today, I worry that Sen. Morrill would be disturbed to see how cuts in public funding for higher education are hurting our working families and saddling our students with debt. I know many of you know this all too well. I worry, too, that dwindling public support will blunt our nation's ability to provide basic and applied research, and threaten America's competitive edge in the knowledge-driven 21st century," Huddleston said.

"Yet, I ask you to take a good look across this field today," he said. "Here, we see and feel and sense deep down the tremendous promise of public higher education. We celebrate the Class of 2012—and we know that our investment in you is a wise and powerful one that inspires us all and enriches our quality of life."

Samuel Bak, Holocaust survivor and artist; Amartya Sen, Nobel Prize winner; and Noble, received honorary degrees.

Long-time champion of public higher education, the late Eugene Savage, who held several high-level positions in the university system; Valerie Cunningham, who is credited with being the inspiration behind the creation of Portsmouth's Black Heritage Trail; and Maxine Katz Morse, chairwoman of the 1975 New Hampshire Commission on Laws Affecting Mental Health, received UNH's 2012 Granite State Awards, given in recognition of outstanding community service. Savage's wife Joan and their three daughters accepted his award.

Read Ronald Nobel's commencement address.

Read Mark W. Huddleston's commencement remarks.

Written by Lori Wright, UNH Media Relations. Photo by Mike Ross, UNH Photographic Services.