Transcript & Video of Bob Duggan's 2009 Science and Math Commencement Speech:

Bob Duggan Commencement Speech at UCSB Part 1 and Part II

Introduction by Pierre Wiltzius:

Mathematical, Life and Physcial Sciences is pleased to announce that Bob Duggan, Chairman & CEO, Biotech Company, Pharmacyclics and UCSB Foundation Trustee will speak at the Science Commencement at 9 a.m. on Saturday, June 13.

Bob is an alumnus of UC Santa Barbara who studied economics with the class of 1966. The founder of several very successful businesses, he has been described as the "consummate entrepreneur". We invited him to be the guest speaker at the commencement ceremony for you, our science graduates, for a very good reason. Bob has told me that if he could do it over again he would pursue a degree in science, and he has been studying deep scientific topics for many decades, as well as having phenomenal success in science and technology businesses. Bob personifies intellectual curiosity. He has said that his education at UCSB helped him develop the tools he needed to be a successful businessman and more recently, a philanthropist.

Bob has many truly admirable qualities including being an extremely hard worker who puts 150% in to everything he does-in fact, he's been working since the age of 10! His life story is a testament to the value of education. Bob says that UCSB was his launching pad, a place where he made connections with important peers that continue to this day. He collaborated with some of these college friends in starting his first business venture while he was still a student. And years later, Bob teamed up with another UCSB alumnus on a company called Computer Motion, now Intuitive Surgical, that revolutionized computer-aided and robotic surgery using technology developed right here at UCSB.

Bob's education helped him develop an ability to think and reason which has been fundamental to his success, together with his drive and competitiveness. An important part of that success is his desire to work for the "greater good", and to have an impact through giving. Bob's wife, Trish, and their daughter, Dsara, are here with us today. Trish and Bob have expanded their impact as excellent parents and have grown their family by adopting six children. They both believe strongly in the importance of giving of their time and talents as well as their money. They are generous contributors to a number of important causes at UCSB including the sciences and engineering, Athletics, as well as the Tibetan Studies program in the Department of Religious Studies.

Please join me in welcoming Bob Duggan

Bob Duggan--2009 Science and Mathematics Commencement Speech:

           (Long applause)

            Wow!  (pause)

            Whew!  (pause)

            It has been a while since I have been on campus but I certainly remember the days of '62 to '66.  (Laughs from the audience)

            The girls were almost as beautiful. (Calls from the audience)

            Guys are a little more handsome.  (Laughs from the audience)

            The surf was fantastic. (Agreements from the audience)

            We learned quickly that if we ate everything they served at the cafeteria, you'd quickly add ten or fifteen pounds to your body.  (Laughs from the audience)

            None of us - none of us - recognized at that time - the power of the education we were receiving. More than just the academics was the camaraderie - fellowship - and the backup and support of students as you went into an exam - charged with the idea that you would pass it with flying colors. (pause) Walked out wondering - what subject was that? (Laughs from the audience)

            I think we invented that saying, "Oh my god!" (Laughs from the audience)

            But Friday - Saturday night salved the wounds of the sorry who had not quite studied hard enough.  (Laughs from the audience)

            Commencement has several meanings: One is a day of celebration for the four years - plus a few that you have spent dedicated to the purpose of achieving your degree. Commencement also means a new beginning.

            So, graduates of the class of 2009, in Math, Life and Physical Sciences, today marks a new beginning for you.

            You'll have questions that other graduates from around the world  - all over the world - will be asking. What now does life hold for me? What is it I have learned? What is it that I am going to do? I can assure you ten years from now whatever you think today, it'll be a bit different because that's the way life rolls.

            Be prepared to adjust and improvise, to recognize that defeat (pause) is a stepping stone. Be humble in your successes and always give honor to those that came before you and provided you the hard won knowledge that you now use to make your own success.

            Life has multiple platforms.  It's not just about you. I take an analogy from the human body.

            I recently took over as CEO of a Northern California biotech company. Quite frankly, it was on a collision course to disaster. That's why it was available for me to take over.  (Laughs from the audience)

            But I recently learned from a book, The Way We Work, by David Macaulay, that the human body is comprised of 75 trillion - with a "t" - cells. I'm sure you have not met each one of them - it would be a challenging task if you had to. But did you know that each one of your cells operates with a gift from its DNA - with a programmed pattern of action - you could call it a hat write-up - a job description? Every single cell has a job to do. And every single cell lives within the community of those other cells. 

           It is much like the life going on within your body, versus your external life on campus. You are connected with others. Life is a very symbiotic relationship. And these cells coordinate with one another and they communicate with harmony. And underneath these cells - which was only discovered within the last one hundred years - are the raw materials called atoms.

           The body is comprised of 24 atoms. Four of which make up 95% of your body: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. You have five trillion, trillion atoms in motion - constantly - all the time. Atoms comprise energy.

           Your body therefore, is always in motion. As I moved through life not knowing those details but fascinated by them when I found out - I wondered that if 75 trillion cells could get along, 60 - 70 - 80 - 90 - 100 years, what is it that precludes man from getting along with his fellow man?

           Why is it   -  that man  -   when he runs low on his confidence in the power of communication, trades bullets for words? Why is it that some of us are wealthy, while others today live in poverty? Why is it that some people perform criminal acts and others are honest?

           What I would like to share with you  -  with the knowledge that you have gained and the study you have done  -  by applying your mind and your attention to gather scientific knowledge using - Francis Bacon's formula for scientific advancement called the scientific method... The scientific method requires you to observe a problem, postulate a solution - then experiment, then further observe and then come to your conclusions.

           I would like you to apply that scientific method to an expanded breadth of life. Not just your job - but apply it to your family, apply it to your relationships with others and ask, why hasn't science - with it's unbelievable ability to solve the problems of the material universe and uncover the secrets of nature, why hasn't it turned its attention to problems such as I just mentioned: poverty, insanity, criminality and war.

           Why not?

           And if it did, what might that outcome be - especially if your intention was to resolve these insidious problems?

            Jules Verne, a great science fiction writer, in 1865, sprang forth with the book From the Earth to the Moon. Now, I don't think that many people were smoking marijuana during that time...(Laughs from the audience) ...but if they were they would have said, "Where is he coming from?"  And one hundred years later we landed on the moon.

            Why can't we now - perhaps one hundred years later, land in or create an environment that is just as harmonious as the very bodies we live in. We humans are but a small group - seven billion - nothing compared to the 75 trillion cells each of us possesses in our own bodies.

            In fact, your human body generates two million cells per second - 120 million per minute. In 60 minutes there'll be more cells generated by each one of you than there are humans on this planet. Let's call it a day for the lack of interest and willingness to get along with our fellow beings.  (Applause from the audience)

            They too deserve four years of fun and sun in an environment such as this - the gorgeous UCSB campus. They too deserve to live in better conditions, under better circumstances. We must make it happen. Let's apply science and the power of the scientific method to achieve this goal.

            And I believe that with the intention and the power you have, that resides within you, just such a future is on the verge of occurring.

            This commencement address has been an interesting experience for me because for the last thirty days I spent many sleepless nights, turning and tossing - wondering exactly what would I do when this moment came - realizing finally, it's a brief twelve minutes. It too will pass but before it goes... (Laughs from audience)...before it goes poof and disappears... There are a few things - there are a few facts that I want to share with you now  -  if you bear with me here.

            Just observe the speed that we are achieving - in terms of accessing data...

            When I was on campus here, ARPANET (U.S. Government Sponsored Advanced Research Project Agency) had just discovered a digital formula for computer network connectivity. And I am proud to say that UCSB was part of the first internet computer network established west of the Mississippi.  (Audience: Yeah)


            Totally powerful!

            From that, we evolved into Ethernet (a protocol for local area computer connectivity).

            Well, I funded an Ethernet company. I visited with each of the three companies that wrote the Ethernet protocol and asked them if they wanted to join in with myself and some fellow UCSB engineers and they said, "Oh no, it's way too early. There are many ways to create computer connectivity and that one may fail." But by taking a positive approach we created the world's third Ethernet company, Communication Machinery, Inc. We built the first network routers for Cisco right here - just off-site from this campus. And of course, then, that led to the commercial introduction and rapid expansion of the internet as we know it today.

            In 1982, there were a thousand internet points of connectivity.

            In 2002, there were one million. 

            And in 2008, there were one billion.

            Our access to data has expanded exponentially. It can now be said that in the last year more new technical data has been made available to man, than existed in the last five hundred years.

            The quantity of new technical data doubles every two years.

            So, with this rapid advance of knowledge and with our own improved access to information, we are able to solve the problems that we just discussed (criminality, insanity, poverty, and war)and it is my prediction that within the next five to ten years, science will turn its attention to these problems.

            These problems are problems of the mind and you will see emerge a science of the mind vetted on the truth  -  empirically derived and tested  - and a science of survival equally vetted.

            And I assure you  -  that with that breakthrough in knowledge  -  our ability to communicate, share our passions, work with one another to the greater good of the entirety of mankind will be - will usher in a new era of harmonious human relations.

            And finally I'd like to say, that while I have been a success in business - and many people feel money is one judge of success, I want each of you to know that there are other, more important forms of pay that far exceed the value of money. And that pay is something that you can take with you from your UCSB experience because when I say it, you will know it   -   because it is consistent with your university experience.

            The ability to communicate with others, the ability to share common goals, the ability to receive and give support and words of encouragement to and from your friends, the camaraderie that comes from establishing star high goals and to have the idea and confidence that you will actually be able to achieve them. That form of pay - money can't buy.

            I mentioned to some friends the other day that there's a commodity called "joy". And, I can assure you that there is a method of achieving joy in your life: simply find another less fortunate than yourself - find another with some need or want that you can satisfy - satisfy that for them. It will not only put a smile on your face but it puts a smile on their face and the joy that you receive will be unparalleled.

            So, whenever you feel, "Geez I'm down on my luck - I have too few friends."

            Get outside of that box of thinking. Help someone - contribute to someone - provide the aid, succor and support that you're capable of and you will find that the magic of life comes back your way.

            And my last word is that when you decide what it is that you're going to do, don't ponder on it too long. Allow that internal feeling - the conscience you have to be your judge. Then go for it.

            The expanse - the chasm between the material world of science and the spiritual world of conscience can be bridged by understanding a very exceptional word.

            I usually like to pronounce it con   science.

            It means, with knowledge.

            Con is derived form Latin - it means with.

            Science is derived from French - scienta - sciens - it means knowledge, knowing.

            Con   science is something within you. It is the deepest well of knowledge that you have concerning what is right and what is wrong - along with the urge to do the right thing. Conscience is a very personal thing.

            From the moment of your birth, to present time, your conscience is an instant index and guide to the correctness, to the appropriateness of what you are doing - what you are thinking. It embodies imagination, evaluation and prediction.

            I recently came to the realization that, I don't have a conscience...(Laughs from the audience)...I am conscience... (applause)...and so are you.

            Realize that that's your best asset. Make the most of it. Carry on as you leave this campus in body but never leave it in conscience.

            Always stay connected. It's a wonderful - wonderful - not only a physical place - but the power of the energy that you have given it and that you take with you from it   -  can stay with you and energize you forever.

            So as you march forward into your future, I wish you the best of success, stability and fulfillment - and if everything else goes poof, remember those words, "You are your conscience."

            Make the most of it.

            Thank you very much.

            (Long applause)

Gene Lucas, Executive Vice Chancellor, UCSB; Bob Duggan, 2009 Science & Math Commencement Speaker; Pierre Wiltzius, Susan & Bruce Worster Dean of Science

News Date: 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009