Roanoke College

John McAfee Addresses Record Class at Commencement

  • John McAfee Addresses Record Class at Commencement

  • 05/03/08
  • SALEM, Va.-John D. McAfee, the founder of McAfee, Inc. which developed the world's first computer virus scanner, was the keynote speaker at Roanoke College's commencement ceremony where a record 421 graduates received degrees. McAfee advised the graduates to question authority in ways that are constructive in their own lives. McAfee was given an honorary doctor of science degree at the ceremony.

    McAfee began his speech by telling the crowd, "Today, for the first time in 23 years, I am wearing a suit." He went on to note that his usual business attire is a t-shirt and jeans and described tattoos "from my shoulders to my waist and down both of my arms-and it's not the happy Mom type of tattoos."

    "The success of my anti-virus venture rested solely on my abandoning the norms of the accepted business practices of the time," McAfee told the graduates.

    "My other ventures all shared some departure from the norm," McAfee added. "This doesn't mean if you develop a cavalier attitude toward work, tattoo yourself from head to toe and abandon all accepted business practices, you will be successful in business or in any other aspects of your life. I would not, in fact, recommend any of the above."

    "But, questioning the authority of accepted ideas is not always a bad thing. Whether these ideas relate to business, culture, relationships or even religious beliefs, I might go further and say that questioning all authority might not be a bad thing. You may not be aware that you submit to authority but you do."

    McAfee also suggested that the new graduates "be skeptical of the majority. Meet every event fresh, unencumbered by presuppositions. And see that if we all walked the same road, there could be no discoveries, no mysteries, no new things. So make your own path."

    The Class of 2008 hails from 26 states and two foreign countries. Two Virginia students earned the top graduation honors. Jake Bennett, a double major in math and physics from Lexington was Valedictorian. Megan Nicole Poore, a psychology major, earned the honor of Salutatorian. Both Bennett and Poore are members of Phi Beta Kappa and the Alpha Chi National Honor Society.

    McAfee graduated from Roanoke in 1967 and majored in mathematics. A leader in the field of technology, he founded Tribal Voice Inc. in 1996 and developed the world's first instant messaging program. He started Interpath Inc. in 1981 which developed the world's first commercial voice recognition system. In 1988, he started McAfee Inc. which developed the world's first virus scanner. McAfee currently lives in New Mexico and Belize and is working on technology programs for developing countries.

    Retiring faculty members also were honored during the ceremony. They are Dr. Pat Jordahl of the foreign languages department, Drs. Gail McKee and Bob Stauffer of the business administration and economics department and Dr. Frank Munley of the math/computer science/physics department.

    A baccalaureate ceremony was held Friday, May 2 with Rev. Paul Henrickson, Roanoke's Timothy L. Pickle Dean of the Chapel, as the featured speaker.

    Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

    For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

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