U-M’s 2015 Commencement gets serving of influence from Zingerman’s founders

Zingerman's Founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig at U-M Spring Commencement (University of Michigan)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan’s 2015 Spring Commencement on May 2 featured memorable quips and comments throughout the speaker lineup, yet it was the Commencement Address by two founders of Zingerman’s Delicatessen that provided the chief advice of resonance. Founders Paul Saginaw and Ari Weinzweig were on hand to receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree each, with Saginaw confessing, “It hit me what an immense honor and opportunity this is.”

Each speaker centered on a personal approach in future endeavor, with Saginaw adding that a sense of outgoingness is a key benefit. “Generosity leads to joy,” he said. “When you give, you get back more.”

“Half of what you have belongs to those who need it.”

Weinzweig stated it came down to a sense of individualism. “Our lives are radically more [positive] when we own our choices,” he added. “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, but conformity. Going for greatness as you is energizing.”

Also important to Weinzweig were ongoing learning and dedication. “Active, engaging, interesting learning is at the core of a good life.”

“Contrary to what the world says, hard work… is always exceptionally rewarding.”

Such motivational input on how to move ahead in life was perhaps clarified earlier by President Mark S. Schlissel: “It’s determined by the mind, the spirit, and the heart.”

Other highlights of the commencement morning included Senior Graduate Catherine Huang’s mass request for selfies, “to remember who you were as a student.”

“We don’t settle, and we commit to causes greater than ourselves,” said Huang.

It was Provost Martha E. Pollack who opened the commencement “at a moment [when] the value of college and higher education is in this country,” she said.

“Universities would be remiss if we did not provide you with the skills to thrive.”

Graduates at the U-M Spring Commencement ceremony in Ann Arbor, Mich. (University of Michigan)
Graduates at the U-M Spring Commencement ceremony in Ann Arbor, Mich. (University of Michigan)

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