Find middle ground, graduates advised

University of Otago graduates should seek ''rich and rewarding'' experiences in their respective professions, but without the ''loss of a life'' in the process, Prof Murray Brennan says.

He was commenting during a graduation address to about 320 law, commerce and allied health science graduates at one of the university's latest graduation ceremonies, at the Dunedin Town Hall, at 1pm on Saturday.

Prof Brennan (73), an Otago medical graduate, New York cancer surgeon, and a former president of the American College of Surgeons, received an honorary Otago doctorate in science in 1997.

He said his post-war generation was ''homogenous in thought and appearance; mainly male, Caucasian, unaware of Aids, birth control or diversity'' and had been seeking ''homogeneity, security and stability''.

Remarkable changes had taken place in the past five decades.

Sociologists had advised that current graduates, part of the millennium generation, were ''diverse in gender, race, ethnicity, religion'' and were looking not just to practise a profession but for ''life experience'' and fulfilment.

Prof Brennan's generation had been ''obsessed'' with work, and had undertaken medical residencies that extended 100 hours a week, ''with little time for family or friends''.

A later generation of graduates could find this ''truly senseless, you may rightly say''.

But he warned that ''too little investment in your own professional future means too little reward''.

There had to be a ''way forward'' through which graduates could achieve a ''middle ground'' by gaining ''rich and rewarding'' experiences within their respective professions, but without the ''loss of a life'' in the process.

Latest Otago graduates had received, as he had, the educational ''tools to grow'' and develop, he said.

Auckland businessman Chris Mace told about 370 Otago graduates attending a later graduation ceremony at 4pm that their subsequent careers would have ''a profound impact on the success and future wellbeing of our nation''.

Mr Mace, who is the chairman of Niwa, urged graduates to ''continue to develop and grow by being prepared to take on new challenges and responsibilities''.

He had found that being prepared to take on such new challenges and responsibility in the wider community had led him to ''some of the most stimulating and exciting chapters'' in his life.

These had involved sport, the Antarctic, science and research, education, and the arts, and his business career.

Mr Mace is a former chairman of the New Zealand Antarctic Research Institute, and has supported projects in marine science involving the University of Otago.