Paul Turovsky ’73 admitted that he had two reactions when told he would receive an honorary degree and speak at Spring Commencement. First: “honored and humbled.”
“I never dreamed when I graduated so long ago that I would ever have the opportunity to return to my alma mater to deliver a Commencement address,” the real estate investment manager who earned a PhD in Latin American history from UCLA told graduates on May 20.
Second: nervousness about not being funny or witty enough, or “not being able to say something meaningful enough.”
But he decided to focus on something he could talk passionately about and something graduates could relate to: the importance of a liberal arts education.
Turovsky manages more than $700 million in assets for institutional investors for True North Management Group. At Binghamton University, Turovsky chaired the Bold.Brilliant. Binghamton fundraising campaign; chairs the Binghamton University Foundation Board of Directors; is vice president of the BUF Housing Corporation; and chairs of the Harpur College Advocacy Council.
He studied history at Binghamton and learned from professors such as Sidney Harcave, Helen Rivlin, Charles Forcey and Melvin Dubofsky.
“The good news was that it was a choice to pursue a real passion that I had developed here at Binghamton,” he said. “... The bad news probably was that I did it without knowledge of the many alternatives that were possible for someone like me.
“The point is that while there is nothing wrong with the student of the liberal arts going on to become a doctor or lawyer or teacher or even getting a business degree to become an accountant,” he added. “What is important is that you recognize that there are many other possibilities and choices filled with enormous opportunities and the next step for you is to find out what some of them are.”
After completing his degree, Turovsky said he realized that teaching and research at a university was not the only career he might be interested in.
“The challenge then was to turn the skills that I had developed in my academic training at Binghamton and UCLA to a new passion in a new career,” he said. “To me – as something of an optimist – this wasn’t a problem or a defeat. It was an opportunity.”
Turovsky told the students that while a liberal arts degree could make their first job search more difficult than if they had a professional degree, he was confident they would succeed.
Once a job is in place, the educational background will prove even more beneficial, Turovksy said.
“The training you had in the liberal arts – the way you have learned to do research, analyze material, to work together in teams, come to conclusions and make judgments, make presentations and sell ideas – will stay with you for your entire life and help make you a more valuable asset in your profession and community,” he said.
Turovsky concluded his address by imploring graduates to remain connected to Binghamton University.
“It took me more than 20 years after graduating before I returned to this school and started to re-establish my relationship as an alumnus,” he said. “I regret that it took me so long to do this. So I would hope that you won’t follow that path but instead continue to stay connected and do everything you can in the years ahead to help others gain access to the excellent educational opportunities that this fine University has provided to you.”
— Eric Coker
Last Updated: 12/10/14