Words of Wisdom

Tom Dempsey '89 addresses Auburn University graduates at the Fall 2023 commencement ceremony

Auburn industrial design graduate Thomas Dempsey, the founder and CEO of Sylvan Sport and a renowned outdoor industry and policy expert, served as keynote speaker at the weekend’s ceremonies.

Dempsey shared with graduates several important lessons he has learned that have given him the wisdom necessary to face life’s challenges.

“Go for things now,” he said. “Don’t wait. Be true to yourselves as you discover your personal definition of success. Success isn’t about ticking off accomplishment boxes. It’s a way of life where you’re transforming your God-given talents to make your life and the lives of those around you better.”

As he wrapped up his remarks, Dempsey reminded students of the value of their accomplishments at Auburn.

“As you go forward from today, this spectacular day, into the holidays having received one of the greatest gifts you could ever give yourselves and your families, your degree from Auburn, be joyful,” he said. “I cannot imagine a building anywhere in the world that’s more overflowing with success than here today right now.”

The ceremony for the College of Architecture, Design and Construction; the College of Forestry, Wildlife and Environment; the College of Liberal Arts; and the College of Sciences and Mathematics took place at 8 a.m. The College of Agriculture, the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, the College of Human Sciences and the College of Nursing followed with a ceremony at 1 p.m., while the Harbert College of Business and the College of Education closed out the day with a 6 p.m. ceremony.

Of the 1,823 degrees conferred, 1,298 were bachelor’s, 390 were master’s and 123 were doctorates. In addition, the university awarded 11 specialist degrees and one Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. More information about Auburn’s celebrations can be found on the commencement website.