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Oration for Lund University at the Doctoral graduation ceremony in Lund's Cathedral
June 2, 2006
by Martin Ugander, MD, PhD

Vice chancellor, promotors, doctors, honored guests,

O, Lund University, O, alma mater. On behalf of us newly promoted doctors, I stand here in your historical first classroom and thank you… for your love. Nowadays our love is mutual and more balanced, but the journey here has been quite bumpy.

I remember that it started with an initial flirt. One was fairly insecure in the beginning. Do I really want to start a relationship like this? Does my prospective partner really want me? No one can force their partner into a relationship. You, alma mater, were older and wiser than I. You said to me, "I neither can nor will attempt to convince you to join this relationship, rather, it is you who must decide what you want. What do you want?" Thank you for asking honest questions.

I remember having just fallen in love, my was heart pounding. We had joined each other for a challenging time together. The unsolved problems were soooo exciting and the world was about to be changed. There was no end to the time we could spend together. Thank you for taking the time.

I remember that there was a lot of passion in the beginning. The cartoonist and humorist Don Herold once said, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to conceive." Our goal was to understand, and things sure got tangled up in the beginning. But, it is through mistakes that we become wiser. Thank you for allowing mistakes.

I remember that our cohabitant relationship turned to routine. It churned on. The excitement chilled. There were things that just need to be done, even if they weren't that fun. Research just isn't that sexy all of the time. Thank you for keeping me interested even in times of routine.

I remember the quarrels. They are a natural and healthy part of a relationship. Modern provocateur Christopher Hitchens said, "In life we make progress by conflict and in mental life by argument and disputation... There must be confrontation and opposition, in order that sparks must be kindled." It is through these conflicts that we develop. Thank you for kindling the sparks!

I remember your endlessly large family. So many names. So many rules. Some family members didn't even talk to each other. At first this was mostly confusing. But, eventually I understood the advantages of a large family. There's always someone to help you when in a bind. Relatives are an important and invaluable source of help. A large family also contributes to broaden one's perspective, adding new insights. Thank you for inviting me into your large and generous family.

I remember the demands you asked of me. It is loving set demands. En educational system which does not set demands does society a disservice. Thank you for the demands you asked of me.

I remember the uncertain flirt, my pounding heart, the passionate closeness, the routine of our relationship, the quarrels, the large family and the demands. I thank you for the honest answers, the time you took, the mistakes you allowed, the routine which you kept me interested through, the sparks you kindled, the family you shared with me and the demands you set.

Newspaper publisher William Allen White said during the first half of the 20th century, "I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today!" We appreciate what we have today, and we are not afraid of tomorrow. Thank you for your love. Thank you, alma mater!

www.ugander.com/martin, e-post: martin [at] ugander.com 2006-06-02