June 16, 2002 11:00 pm

By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

David Huber, the founder and president of Corvis Corp., is one of Eastern Oregon University's most noteworthy graduates.

Huber, however, chose to poke fun at himself and not review his accomplishments at the start of his address at EOU's graduation ceremony on Saturday.

Huber told Eastern's graduates that they probably thought they had heard their last boring lecture until he stepped to the podium.

"(EOU) President (Phil) Creighton told me that there is a graduation tradition. ‘Students cannot be sent out into the world until they are fully sedated,' '' Huber said to a roar of laughter.

A 1974 graduate of Eastern, Huber told the class of 2002 how his EOU education helped him develop the skills needed to found Corvis Corp., a Maryland firm that develops fiber-optic telecommunications equipment. The company is a multi-billion-dollar firm.

What makes Corvis exceptional is that all of its gear is optical. Optical networks transmit signals — voice or data — via beams of light instead of as electrical signals. Huber lists the support he received from EOU's faculty as a major reason for his success in the telecommunications field.

"I've been able to take the path I've taken because they helped me believe in myself. It is important that the education process help young people understand that they can achieve and have potential,'' Huber said.

Huber, who grew up in La Grande, attended Brigham Young University after graduating from Eastern. In 1980 he received a doctorate in electrical engineering from BYU where, Huber said, he missed the small classes and personal atmosphere Eastern provided.

Huber saluted Eastern in an enormous way in December when he donated $600,000 to his alma mater. He provided $500,000 for EOU's $33.5 million Science Center project. He also gave $100,000 for a physics and engineering endowment at Eastern. Huber's donation is the largest in EOU history.

Huber spoke to about 370 graduates at Saturday's commencement. A crowd of 2,000 to 3,000 looked on at Community Stadium. The students are among a graduating class of more than 800.

In addition to Huber, those who addressed EOU's graduates included included Phyllis Wustenberg of Bay City, a member of the State Board of Higher Education.

"You don't have to be anything bigger or better or different than what you are to be acceptable. Just be the best of whatever you are,'' Wustenberg said.

Ramirose Attebury of Lostine spoke as the President's Scholar of this year's graduating class. She urged the graduates to become lifelong learners.

"Don't think that you are finished learning. ... You can never be too educated,'' said Attebury, who graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor of arts in history.

Attebury stressed that reading is the best way to continue learning.

"If you have the ability to read and don't use it you really don't have an advantage over someone who can't read,'' Attebury said.

Attebury concluded with a creative twist on a popular commercial.

"Education has a price but being educated is priceless,'' Attebury said.