Western Md. College fetes 'Wall Street Week' host

October 04, 1992|By Linda Lowe Morris | Linda Lowe Morris,Staff Writer

Louis Rukeyser came to the campus of Western Maryland College yesterday morning to receive an honorary doctorate and to offer his condolences to the Class of 1993.

But true to his reputation as American's foremost economic optimist, he found a silver lining to their entry into one of the slowest job markets in recent history.

"There may actually be an advantage to setting out in less than balmy seas," said the host of Maryland Public Television's production, "Wall Street Week."

It's not in the quantity or quality of jobs, he quickly said. "It resides instead in the firmer grasp of economic reality that you're likely to develop as a result of this initial rough period. It could serve you well through a lifetime of productive work."

Nearly every seat in the Baker Memorial Chapel was filled as Mr. Rukeyser gave the keynote address in the Founder's Convocation, which also included the presentation of the John Smith Memorial Medallion Award to Alonzo G. Decker, Jr., retired chairman of the board of the Black and Decker Manufacturing Co.

In his introduction, President Robert Chambers -- who, to the enjoyment of the mostly middle-aged crowd, was clearly imitating Mr. Rukeyser's humorous and wordy introductions to "Wall Street Week" -- described him as "demythologizing the money market and deflating countless pompous pundits of fiscal finagling."

As he bestowed the Doctor of Humane Letters, Mr. Chambers draped an appropriately green-lined academic hood over Mr. Rukeyser's shoulders. Mr. Rukeyser immediately brought the house down with a reference to John F. Kennedy's visit to the Berlin Wall when he said, "Now I can proclaim, 'Ich Bin Eine Green Terror' ".

Throughout his 25-minute talk, Mr. Rukeyser championed the free enterprise system and private business, celebrated the fall of worldwide communism and socialism, and jabbed frequently at government regulation of business.

As he turned his remarks to the few members of the student body in the audience, he recalled an old joke about another speaker. After "reviewing all the challenges that faced that year's graduating class and then after reflecting on everything he said, concluded with the exhortation, 'don't go' ".

But that wasn't his advice, he added. He encouraged a decidedly Horatio Alger outlook for the graduates when he added, "Today's prospective graduates, while sadder, should be wiser.

"When times improve, today's smart graduate will be tempered and toughened and ready to claim a lifetime of genuinely earned success."

He told the students to beware "the fashionable chip on the shoulder. . . . "It's not fair that your older brothers and sisters got job offers that may not be waiting for you," he said. "It's not fair that we have not eliminated from American society every form of discrimination. But it will not make your own life happier or more prosperous if you constantly dwell on those inequities instead of resolutely building your own life and career on your own."

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