On ReceivingThe Honorary Degree as Doctor of Lawsfrom the University of DelawareNewark, DelawareOctober 22, 1999
LET ME FIRST express my sincere thanks for the signal honor you have just bestowed on me. I accept it with great pride, enthusiastic delight, and considerable humility. Earlier in my life, there was a point at which I actually considered becoming an attorney, and, with luck, perhaps ultimately even a respected jurist. While that dream has long since vanished, my designation by your Trustees as Doctor of Laws through the award of this Honorary LL.D. degree will be a wonderful reminder of a legal career that might have been.
Your award, interestingly enough, comes at a major milestone in Vanguard's history. Only a few weeks ago, we quietly celebrated the 25th anniversary of our founding: September 24, 1974. Since we began, our industry—driven by the great bull market in stocks and the ever-growing acceptance of the mutual fund concept—has burgeoned 150-fold in assets, from $40 billion to $6 trillion. But Vanguard's 500-fold growth in this period—from $1 billion to $500 billion—has marked us as the fastest growing firm in the entire industry.
The explanation for that success—although, to be clear, I equate neither giant size nor rapid growth with success—is not very complicated. Our defining quality, I think, is our recognition, a quarter century ago, of the majesty of simplicity. If Vanguard has dared to strive for greatness, it is because ...