End of academic year, with commencement and honors, is an exciting and inspiring time

One of the most exciting aspects of this time of year for a chancellor is the opportunity I have to meet students who have excelled academically and are either graduating or very close to it. This week I had the chance to help recognize the 2018 graduates of our Honors College as well as attend the celebration banquet for our fantastic Multicultural Student Services office.

Bestow the stole

On Monday night I joined Professor Chris Ferguson, director of the Honors College, to participate in the handing out of stoles that each college graduate will wear Saturday, May 5, during their respective commencement exercises.

In my remarks, I pointed out the importance that our faculty mentors played in the success these Honors College graduates had in the classroom, as well as the support the students received from their family and friends. This support theme is something I always expound upon during my commencement address. I also commented that I find being in the company of honors students enjoyable because they really are extraordinary and, “They have a true spirit of adventure and a drive to excel and challenge themselves in astonishing ways.” More on the Honors College is available here.

Persistence to power

Tuesday night I had the privilege of speaking at the 35th annual spring banquet sponsored by the Multicultural Student Services office. During my welcome, I actually thanked those in attendance for the inspiration and energy that I gained by attending the event, adding, “Your steadfast focus on your goal to complete your degree and the persistence you have exhibited overcoming obstacles to get to commencement day is both inspiring and energizing.”

I also told the attendees that I found inspiration in a quotation from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

I also found inspiration in the graduate speaker, Marcus Lewis, who is a candidate for a doctoral degree in career and technical education. Marcus expounded on the theme of persistence and emphasized the value in constantly striving to improve oneself.

The testimonials from the students who talked about “who we are” reminded me of the tremendous challenges that some of our students face to achieve their goals, including earning a college degree.

I want thank Barb Miller, MSS director, Vickie Sanchez, student services coordinator, and the entire office staff and participating students for putting together such an inspirational event. More on the Multicultural Student Services office is available here.


Commencement on May 5

Finally, I would like to make my semiannual plea for as many of our faculty and staff to attend one (or all!) of the three commencement exercises we will hold Saturday, May 5. I believe it is vitally important that our graduates see the faculty and staff they interacted with during their time on campus at this very special day for them.

Those who attend the 9:30 a.m. ceremony will see, for the first time, six of our ROTC graduates given their oath after receiving their degrees. We also will see the first graduates in our mechanical engineering program receive their diplomas, and it will mark the last time Loretta Thielman, a professor in the mathematics, statistics and computer science department, will carry the mace at the head of the processional into Johnson Fieldhouse. More on commencement is available here.