Washington State University’s newest graduates are entering “a world vastly different and more dangerous than it was before September 11,” a world that cries out for their leadership in government, in science, in business, in education, in the military.

This was the message U.S. Congressman and WSU alumnus George R. Nethercutt, Jr. delivered as commencement speaker December 15 at the University’s first fall graduation exercise.

“Your generation is now called on to face a fearsome worldwide threat of terrorism similar to that serious threat which faced your grandparents, as they were stunned by Pearl Harbor and World War II.”

Nethercutt (’67 English), a Spokane native, told the new graduates that the greatest mistake today’s terrorists could make would be “to underestimate your love of country, your commitment to peace and freedom.”

“Commit to being strong leaders wherever you find yourself,” he encouraged them.

Nearly 400 graduating students from the summer and fall semesters took part in the ceremony. Twenty-seven of the graduates were doctoral candidates, and 41 were master’s degree candidates. About 1,500 students earned degrees in December. The initial fall commencement attracted some 2,000 people. It complements WSU’s annual spring graduation in May.