A Standing Ovation for Bill Stauffer's Final Lecture

“To my dear students, this final lecture is for you. And it is done in your honor, not mine.”

Retiring Professor, Bill Stauffer, recently delivered his Final Lecture to a packed hall inside the Great Hall of the Wren Building on April 24th. For those not present, you missed a rare display of human integrity. Sharon Stauffer introduced her husband, hiding her nerves about public speaking behind a contagious smile. She is a delight. Their commitment to, and respect for, each other is not a charade. It is easy to see why they have enjoyed a marriage for over 48 years. They didn’t stick it out; they worked together to plant and harvest a lasting relationship. When a man prospers on the homefront and in his professional life, he has much to be thankful for which Bill recognizes every day. The Lecture embodied every element of poignancy. Running less than an hour, it concluded with a standing ovation from students, colleagues, friends and family. Like the secret Bishop James Madison Society members who nominated Bill to deliver the Final Lecture, it seems appropriate that the content of Bill’s speech remain largely cloaked in mystique, remembered by those present as opposed to regurgitated in the forum of social media. One can summarize his statements, but the emotion can only be captured firsthand. If only every retirement speech were so profound. For those who attended, appetites were satiated with Bill’s “Baker’s Dozen”: Thirteen tenets by which to set the compass of your life. Bill was candid, humble, direct, funny, endearing and diplomatic. He spoke from a place of vulnerability and experience with deep gratitude to his wife and the students who have made his career a true joy. To address all realms of life in a single speech is no easy feat. His words leave a legacy.

“Lead your life in such a way that it makes a difference so that when each of us looks back and presents our final lecture, wherever that may be, we can say with humble confidence, ‘I gave it my all. I made a difference.’ ”

Bill’s Tenets for a life well-lived in increasing order of importance:

  1. Take nothing for granted. Life is unpredictable and short.
  2. Admit mistakes and ask for help. Own the problem and be transparent.
  3. Be dependable and on time. Keep your word. Deliver ahead of time.
  4. Do not hard sell. Make your personal brand your selling point. Listen carefully.
  5. Earn trust and loyalty, it will pay enormous dividends. Have a genuine interest in others.
  6. Client focus is everything. Put the interests of others first.
  7. Live within your means. Distinguish between need and want.
  8. Smile. It’s like sunshine.
  9. Vote and read The Constitution. Be a responsible citizen.
  10. Be a truly worthy leader and role model. Share success. Practice MBWA: Management by Walking Around.
  11. Strive for greatness in everything you do. Mediocrity is not a career path. Execution counts. Having goals is not enough. Go for the gold. Move fearlessly.
  12. Willingly serve those in need. True service is never convenient.
  13. Be known for your personal integrity. Character is the ultimate differentiator.

“I’m continually impressed by the unequivocal pay-it-forward attitude of our students…it makes us truly unique as a Tribe family.” -Bill Stauffer

Congratulations Bill! You will be missed, but not forgotten.