Commencement Remarks to 2015 Graduating Class of Chapman University

May 23, 2015

President Doti, Dean Gilyard, Distinguished Faculty, Guests—and our VIPs on this auspicious occasion—Chapman Business and Economics Graduates:

It is an honor to stand among you today, as together, we receive our degrees from Chapman University. An academic degree is a powerful and precious credential. It is also a measure—both quantitative and qualitative—denoting the scope of knowledge gained and the insight that comes with it.

The sum of this knowledge, insight and experience has a name: Human Capital. And it is the single most important asset for any enterprise. The defining asset of all knowledge industries. Unfortunately, it is also the scarce resource of our time.

Now, like me, you are all business and economics majors. You know your way around a balance sheet. So think of this: Human capital, the most valuable asset of any business, any institution, any for-profit start up or non-profit enterprise is not disclosed on a balance sheet—even though its value dwarfs all other assets by a factor of three. This is crucially misleading.

So one of the things I implore you to do as you advance into the world of paying-work is remember: that whatever enterprise you choose to join, to contribute to or lead, it is the people you work with and hire and guide who make all the difference.

A second thought related to the first. There is, as I stand here, a seismic shift taking place. You do not feel it. But you will. And you’re likely to feel it before many of your peers precisely because of what you’ve studied and learned here at Chapman. For what’s underway is a transfer of wealth. It is the largest in history and it is coming from my generation to yours. Forty trillion dollars’ worth.

Number whizzes that we are, it’s worth reminding ourselves of exactly what a trillion is. It’s a thousand billion. It’s Apple – at three-quarters of one trillion dollars, the most valuable company on the planet. It’s Apple times forty with 250 billion dollars to spare.

I dwell on the number for a reason: the hugeness of its potential for transformative good. But I want to stress that potential is realizable only by the people on the receiving end of the transfer; if people of talent devote themselves to using this endowment constructively, imaginatively and well.

Between now and the end of the process, many many philanthropic foundations will be established and others greatly expanded, all for the purpose of effecting this transfer. Many for-profit businesses will be established, too. But it’s the might of the foundations I’d like to commend to you today. When I was about ten years older than you, I formed various foundations whose work has, over the decades, made a real difference in the fields of education and medical research. I cannot overstate the gratification that comes from actually seeing the big needle move. And I can also attest to the fact that what you can and will learn from the for-profit realm is itself transferable to the non-profit arena.

Chapman University graduates have a long tradition of philanthropic and public service. So as your career unfolds over the ensuing years, I ask you to consider applying your skills, knowledge and experiences to make the philanthropic sector as responsive to innovation as the private sector.

The potential is unique in human history. The opportunity is unique for you as business and economics graduates. For in this way you will be able to answer the question: What am I doing to increase the sum of hope in this world?


Principal Omar Duron Wins Arizona Milken Educator Award

Jennifer Williams Surprised with Louisiana Milken Educator Award

2019 Lowell Milken Founder's Award Goes to Wildflower School in Goodyear, AZ

STEM Teacher Nichole Anderson Receives Milken Educator Award

2010-19 Missouri Milken Educator Therese Shain Shares Big News

Angie Beavin wins Milken Educator Award in Kentucky

Erica Stephens Accepting 2018 Tenneesee Milken Educator Award

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins 2018 Milken Award

Kansas 2018 Milken Educator Award Recipient Linda Dishman

West Goshen Elementary School Named 2018 TAP Founder's Award Recipient

Teacher Theresa Cross Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Principal Debreon Davis Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Receives Milken Educator Award

Lisa Rodgers Announced as this year's Colorado Milken Educator Award Recipient

Lowell Milken's James Bryant Conant Award Acceptance Speech

Lowell Milken Congratulates 2015 Milken Educator John Lary

Lowell Milken Speaks at 2015 Chapman University Commencement

Lowell Milken with Students at Friendly House Academia del Pueblo Elementary Charter School

Lowell Milken Keynote Address at 2017 TAP Conference

Felicia Casto wins Milken Educator Award at Rim Rock Elementary

Lowell Milken Speaks with Students at East End Prep in Nashville, TN

Ryan James Presented with 2017 Milken Educator Award in Richmond, Virginia

Lowell Milken, Tom Torlakson and Wayne Jospeh at 2017 Milken Educator Award Presentation

Lowell Milken Accepts 2017 James Bryant Conant Award

Media Interviews at Devon Willis-Jones Milken Educator Awards Assembly


Lowell Milken Presents Music Teacher Nicolas Jacques with Nevada Milken Educator Award

Computer Teacher Nichole Anderson Surprise with Milken Educator Award

Missouri Teacher Therese Shain Receives Milken Educator Award

Angie Beavin Surprised with Kentucky Milken Educator Award

Principal Wendy Shirey Receives Nevada Milken Educator Award

Sarah Szymanski Wins Colorado Milken Award

Math Teacher Erica Stephens Wins Tennessee Milken Award in Memphis, TN

Heather Hurt Announced as 2018-19 Alabama Milken Educator Awardee

Oklahoma Kindergarten Teacher Hailey Couch Wins Milken Award

Perry Township Schools Receives First-Ever National Award of Excellence for Educator Effectiveness

AZ Science Teacher Jonathan Cadena Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Math Teacher Angela Boxie Wins Milken Educator Award

Katherine Watkins Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Knoxville Teacher Paula Franklin Surprised with Milken Educator Award

Chino Hills Teacher Alexis King Receives 2017 Milken Educator Award

G.W. Carver Primary School Wins 2017 TAP Founder's Award

Arizona Teacher Ana Gutierrez Receives Milken Educator Award

Milken Archive Releases Retrospective Documentary