Former President George H.W. Bush Remembered

UNH commencement speaker 2007

Monday, December 3, 2018
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Former President George H.W. Bush

In 2007, when former President George H.W. Bush joined former President Bill Clinton as keynote speaker for UNH’s 137th commencement, he encouraged graduates to make a difference, saying the work he and Clinton were doing to raise money for natural disaster victims transcended politics.

"You don't have to be a president to be a leader and to touch the lives of your fellow countrymen," Bush said. "All you have to do is care and roll up your sleeves and claim some of society's problems as your own."

The 41st president then told students they shouldn’t be surprised when their parents continued to offer their opinions, saying “Don't expect the advice from your parents to stop after you leave college or even if you become president of the United States." Bush then shared that he had received a call from his mother when he was vice president, reprimanding him for talking to House Speaker Tip O'Neil while President Ronald Reagan was giving a State of the Union address.

Bush died Friday, Nov. 30, at the age of 94.

In 1991, he met with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in Malta, where both leaders announced the end to the Cold War.

“George H. W. Bush should mainly be remembered for the skill with which his administration handled relations with the Soviet Union, helping to ensure that the Cold War ended with a whimper and not a bang,” says UNH’s Kurk Dorsey, Class of 1938 Professor of History. "After he left office, George H. W. Bush did what good presidents do, he became an elder statesman who worked with his fellow former presidents, especially Bill Clinton, to urge Americans to work together to solve their problems."

Prior to the 2007 commencement, Bush and Clinton had been working together to raise money for Hurricane Katrina and tsunami victims. They formed the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund in September 2005.

Bush gave the commencement speech at UNH once before, in 1987, when he was vice president.