VCU commencement speaker challenges newest graduates to work hard — every day

VCU commencement speaker challenges newest graduates to work hard — every day

During fall commencement ceremonies today, Todd P. Haymore, Virginia secretary of commerce and trade, advised graduates to strive for excellence, accept and learn from failures, continue to seek education, practice integrity and, most importantly, work hard. 

“The degree you are earning today was not given to you. You didn’t scratch a lottery ticket and find a VCU diploma. No, you went out and you earned it. And here’s the thing: That’s exactly what you’ll need to continue doing to be successful moving forward. You’ll need to earn it. And you’ll need to earn it every single day,” said Haymore, appointed by Gov. Terry McAuliffe as secretary of commerce and trade in September 2016 to oversee the economic, community and workforce development initiatives of the state. 

You didn’t scratch a lottery ticket and find a VCU diploma. No, you went out and you earned it. 

Haymore previously served as secretary of agriculture and forestry, beginning in 2010, under both McAuliffe and Gov. Bob McDonnell. Prior to being named secretary, Haymore served in a number of leadership posts in the private and public sectors, including commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services under Gov. Tim Kaine; executive at both Universal Leaf Tobacco Corporation and DIMON Inc., two of the world’s largest leaf tobacco dealers; and legislative assistant and communications director to former U.S. Rep. L.F. Payne. 

Haymore received his Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of Richmond and his Master of Business Administration from VCU. 

More than 2,200 students attended the main commencement ceremony at the E.J. Wade Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center and individual academic unit ceremonies on and near campus. There are more than 2,800 graduates for August and December.

VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D., called on the graduates to offer hope to a divided world. 

“As you move from student at this university to leader in our world, let your education, your resilience and your commitment be your guides,” Rao said. “Rebuild a divided world with love and compassion for one another and create — finally create — a world in which every person has a voice to share, an opportunity to thrive and a reason to hope.”  

Haymore was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, VCU’s highest form of recognition. 

VCU December 2016 Commencement. Video by Hannah Sutherland.

James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin also received the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. James McGlothlin is founder, chairman and CEO of the United Company, a diversified conglomerate based in Bristol, Virginia. Frances McGlothlin is a board member of the United Company Charitable Foundation and the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Foundation and is the senior vice president of UC Fine Arts in New York. The McGlothlins are active philanthropists, supporting educational and cultural enrichment. They donated $25 million in 2011 to the VCU School of Medicine for a new medical education building which was named after them and, in 2001, they donated $2 million to name an endowed chair in honor of Harold F. Young, M.D., former chair of the Department of Neurosurgery.  

The Edward A. Wayne Award, established in 1971 to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions or provided exemplary service to VCU, was presented to Olin V. and Jane Baird Hyde. Jane Baird Hyde donated the Virginia Heart Institute to the VCU Health System in 2011 and it is now named the VCU Baird Vascular Institute. The gift was given in memory of her late husband Charles Lewis Baird Jr., M.D., who founded the institute and was the first cardiologist to perform cardiac catheterization in an outpatient setting. The Bairds also endowed the Charles L. Baird Jr., M.D., Professorship in Cardiology. Olin V. Hyde funded the Carolyn Wingate Hyde Endowed Chair in Cancer Research in memory of his late wife, who was a member of the Massey Advisory Board and a patient resource library volunteer.

Three Presidential Medallion awards were announced: William “Bill” C. Bosher Jr., Ed.D., was recognized posthumously for a career in local, state and higher education that spanned more than 40 years, including time as dean of VCU’s School of Education, distinguished professor of the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs and founding director of the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute. John F. Duval, former CEO of VCU Hospitals and Clinics of the VCU Health System, was recognized for his leadership of the three-hospital system and commitment to making VCU Medical Center one of the safest hospitals in the country. Clifford W. Edwards, Ph.D., was recognized for his 40-year career at VCU, which includes developing the religious studies program and receiving the VCU Excellence in Teaching Award and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award. The Presidential Medallion, established in 1984, recognizes individuals for their extraordinary achievement in learning and commitment to the mission of VCU.

About VCU and VCU Health

Virginia Commonwealth University is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, VCU enrolls more than 30,000 students in 233 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Twenty-two of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 11 schools and three colleges. The VCU Health brand represents the VCU health sciences academic programs, the VCU Massey Cancer Center and the VCU Health System, which comprises VCU Medical Center (the only academic medical center in the region), Community Memorial Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU, MCV Physicians and Virginia Premier Health Plan. For more, please visit and