Perhaps the single most significant event on a university campus is Commencement. After all, for the university, it symbolizes all that we stand for, and for the students, it symbolizes all that they strive for and all that they achieve. It is an ending, but it is also a beginning, as it marks the “crossing over” from one of life’s journeys to another.
Commencement also provides an opportunity to reflect on the academic year that comes to a conclusion. I shared the following highlights with those assembled:
- Progress on the Strategic Plan
- Unveiling of a new Master Plan
- Construction of a new Sophomore Residence Hall and Nursing Building
- The creation of the Center for Student Success
- The development of the Methodist University Journey and the creation of Centers in Leadership, Global Education, Community Engagement, and Undergraduate Research and Creativity
- The inaugural Undergraduate Research Symposium
- The new School of Health Sciences
- Athletic conference championships and All-American and All-Conference honors for some of our athletes
- Impressive speakers on campus, including General Frank Helmick, Retired UPS Chairman/CEO Oz Nelson, and First Citizens Bank Chairman/CEO Frank B. Holding, Jr.
But nothing has been as exciting or as important as the accomplishments of our graduates. They have achieved great success through their academic pursuits, and now continue on to professional positions or graduate schools, while living lives of meaning and purpose.
As I greeted each of the 160 graduates with their sponsors and handed them their diplomas, I was moved by how much a degree from Methodist meant to them and their families. For some, they were the first in their family to graduate from college. For others, major sacrifices were made in order to pursue an education. Others expressed their gratitude for being given this life-changing opportunity to attend Methodist, and for the relationships they developed with faculty, staff, and fellow classmates.
What I learned at Commencement is a reminder of what I have encountered numerous times since arriving at Methodist some fifteen months ago. This is a special place that transforms lives. Methodist is thriving and continuing to prosper and move forward. Methodist gets it right where it matters the most – putting the success of our students first.