Remarks by Robert H. Rawson Jr.
University Orator, Class of 1966, and Chair of the Executive Committee of The Trustees of Princeton University
John Clifton Bogle '51
Doctor of Laws
John Bogle, a pioneer of the mutual funds industry, created Vanguard Capital Management in 1974. He served as Vanguard's chairman and chief executive officer until 1996 and senior chairman until 2000 when he became president of the Bogle Financial Markets Research Center. Mr. Bogle introduced the first index mutual fund and has sought throughout his career to create investment vehicles that are low cost and low maintenance. Called one of the four "giants of the 20th century" by Fortune magazine in 1999, Mr. Bogle has left his stamp far beyond the walls of Pennsylvania-based Vanguard. He was a member of the board of governors of the Investment Company Institute from 1969 to 1974 and has served as a director of the Princeton University Investment Company. In 1991, he was named to the Market Oversight and Financial Services Advisory Committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and six years later he began serving on the Independence Standards Board. He serves as chairman of the National Constitution Center. A recipient of many awards, Mr. Bogle was named as one of the world's 100 most powerful and influential people by Time magazine in 2004, and Institutional Investor presented him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1999 he received Princeton's Woodrow Wilson Award, which honors an alumnus for service to the nation. A prolific author, he has written several influential books that have won the acclaim of professionals and the general public alike, including Common Sense on Mutual Funds: New Imperatives for the Intelligent Investor (1999), Character Counts: The Creation and Building of The Vanguard Group (2002), and, soon to be published, The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.
Princeton University (A.B., 1951)
In 1951, as an idealistic economics major, he proposed in his senior thesis the then-revolutionary concept of an efficient and economical mutual fund run primarily for the benefit of the investor. Known as a pioneer of index fund investing, he is an unrelenting crusader against high fees and hidden costs and an outspoken advocate for intelligent investing. Honesty is an integral element of his management strategy, reflecting his precept that character counts in investing as in other walks of life. We honor him today for over half a century of making sure that the individual investor's interest remains always in the vanguard.
Excerpts from 2005 Commencement Address Shirley M. Tilghman President, Princeton University May 31, 2005
Today we conferred Princeton's highest tribute—an honorary degree—on six individuals who have used their extraordinary talents to leave the world better than they found it. This is the reason we award honorary degrees—to publicly recognize men and women who embody the very qualities of mind and character that Princeton University seeks to develop in all its students. I would like to take a few moments to reflect on those qualities that I hope you will continue to cultivate once you leave this truly privileged place . . .
On June 12, 1951, Jack Bogle sat where you find yourselves today. In some respects, his was a different university: Women were nowhere in evidence, and one of the first African-Americans to earn an undergraduate degree from Princeton, Joseph Ralph Moss, was a member of Bogle's class. Yet then, as now, Princeton planted seeds that led its graduates to commit their lives to the service and well-being of others. Jack Bogle drew upon the findings of his senior thesis to change the face of the investment industry through the introduction of low-cost mutual funds, and to champion the interests of individual investors. He also drew upon the values that were nourished here. For example, since 1893Princeton's honor code has symbolized the importance we place on integrity—requiring each member of our community to assume personal responsibility for his or her academic work.
Words and ideas, after all, are the coin of the academic realm, and it is essential that we uphold the value of our currency. But as former Senator Bill Bradley of the class of 1965 said at an assembly on Cannon Green in 2003, "You'll need your moral compass long after you've signed your last honor pledge at Princeton. It takes a lifetime to build a reputation but only one false step to call it into doubt." I am also reminded that at that same assembly, Professor John Fleming exhorted you as follows: "Integrity is an excellent thing. You should all have it. If perchance you lack it, you should get it as soon as possible." Good advice, John. I hope that in years to come, the principles and standards to which you have been held here will guide all your actions. You are certain to be tested in little and not so little ways, but as Jack Bogle demonstrates, it is possible to pass these tests with flying colors and still achieve worldly success.
And so, as you walk, skip or run—whatever your preference may be—through the FitzRandolph Gates today, as educated citizens of this and many other nations, I hope you will carry forward the spirit of Princeton and all that this place has aspired to teach you—a determination to follow your passions in service to the common good, a respect both for tradition and for progress, an openness to new ideas and a willingness to share them with others, the courage to stand up for your beliefs and the rights of others, a global sensibility, a lifelong devotion to justice and freedom, all informed by the highest standards of integrity and mutual respect. And I fully expect you will continue to do as you have done at Princeton—to aim high and be bold.