Ken Lowe, CEO of Scripps Networks Interactive and creator of HGTV, told UT graduates that he built his career by combining things he loved—home remodeling, television, and electronic media.
Lowe received an honorary doctorate in humane letters during the College of Communication and Information ceremony on Thursday.
Lowe spoke to graduates about his own career and some of the life lessons he’s learned along the way.
“I’ve never regretted a single day since I dedicated myself to turning the dream of HGTV into reality,” he said, joking that he tried to get the network’s popular Property Brothers to come with him.
“But you know as well as I do that love is more than career, or vision, or leaving your mark on the world. I’m more than a path to success of accumulating material things.
“Love is mostly about relationships. It’s about family and friends. Those closest to you, the people who know you best, who you rely on and who rely on you,” he said, acknowledging his parents—now married for 70 years—in the crowd.
“Take the time to honor those you love by being present for them. Never give them and that part of your life short shrift.”
Lowe summed up his advice to graduates in three words: love, listen and learn.
“Hear the people around you,” he said. “Think about what they’re saying. Listen—not for a pause in the conversation so that you can say what you want to say, but to truly listen to understand. Communicate one to one, face to face, and really get to know each other. See life from their perspective.”
He congratulated the graduates for earning their degrees but said, “I’m sure you know by now that there’s a whole heck of a lot of stuff you don’t know, even with your valuable college education.
“Whether you decide to go on to earn advanced degrees, or whether you’re jumping right into a career, I encourage you to remain intellectually curious. Read. Expand your horizons. Give new ideas a chance. Keep an open mind.”
He concluded by telling the graduates that commencement isn’t the end but the beginning of an exciting journey.
“Sometimes it will seem that the world is at your feet, and at other times it might not feel so easy. The lessons you’ve learned over the course of your studies, the friendships you’ve made, the principles you’ve developed, the ideas you’ve formed—all of these will hold you in good stead as you head down the road into the future.”
Lowe is one of three noted commencement speakers receiving honorary degrees this spring; the others are Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt and Tennessee’s 48th Governor Phil Bredesen. With these three, UT will have granted 17 honorary degrees over the years.