Perkins Delivers Commencement Address At South Carolina Aiken

May 5, 2005

AIKEN, S.C. — University of Kansas Athletics Director Lew Perkins received an honorary degree and delivered the commencement address Thursday night at The University of South Carolina Aiken.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Perkins served as Director of Athletics at USC-Aiken from 1969 to 1980, as the institution grew from a junior college to a four-year institution. He also served as head basketball coach there from 1969-1979. He is credited with building the foundation for athletics at USC Aiken, and was honored by the campus in 2003 as a “Pacer Pioneer” for his efforts to develop athletics programs and support student-athletes.

USC-Aiken awarded Perkins an honorary Doctor of Education degree “for his achievements in intercollegiate athletics; for the crucial role he played in the early development of the University of South Carolina Aiken campus; and for his personal commitment to upholding high standards and ethical principles in all aspects of his life.”

In his address, Perkins urged the graduates not to fear failure. “Don’t worry about failure,” he said. “Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.”

The world, he said, is “full of ordinary people who simply tossed failure to the wind to go on and do extraordinary things. They demonstrated an unconventional leadership that seemed to say, `I’m willing to fail for the chance to achieve something unimagined.'”

Heavy hitters, the ones who hit the ball out of the park, know walking onto the field that they’re also going to strike out a lot, Perkins said. “A businessman named R.H. Macy failed seven times before his department store in New York that now bears the name of the world’s most famous Thanksgiving Day Parade caught on. Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times. But he also hit 714 home runs, and that’s what you remember most.”

Today, Perkins continued, “is the day to trust your gut, rely on the common sense your family has armed you with and the skills that this university has imparted to you, and then get going.”