President Mitch Daniels’ Commencement Address: Spring 2021

“The biggest risk of all is that we stop taking risks, at all.”

President Mitch Daniels addresses Purdue University’s Class of 2021 in Purdue’s first-ever outdoor Commencement at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday, May 15, 2021.

President Daniels told the graduates that completing college during the COVID-19 pandemic provided lessons in resilience that will serve them well throughout their lives.

Daniels insisted that, by taking responsible action to help the University remain open during the pandemic, these graduates were better prepared to become leaders who can make difficult decisions after thoughtfully weighing all of their options.

Citing accomplished Boilermakers like Amelia Earhart, Neil Armstrong and Gus Grissom, Daniels encouraged the graduates to embrace life’s risks rather than run from them. Doing so, he said, allows us to “overcome even the biggest obstacles and be the masters of our fates and our futures.”

“We expect – no, we know – that you will tackle leadership’s challenges as they present themselves to you,” Daniels concluded. “You’re’ taking with you all the tools to weigh alternatives, balance priorities, assess relative risks. All you’ll need is the courage to act on the conclusions you reach. Now, take that readiness into a fearful, timid world crying for leadership and direction and boldness, where the biggest risk of all is that we stop taking risks, at all.”