Tuesday, May 11, 2021

UIS Perspectives: Commencement is a celebration of endings and beginnings

The following is an excerpt from a column by University of Illinois Springfield Interim Chancellor Karen Whitney. This column appeared in The State Journal-Register on May 8, 2021. 

This week, I am so very proud to announce that the University of Illinois Springfield will celebrate the incredible achievements of the Class of 2021 through both in-person and virtual commencement ceremonies.

Commencement also marks a beginning of the next stage of one’s life as a college graduate. It marks so many next milestones — for some, it is the transition fully into adulthood. It is the entry into professional employment, graduate school, military service or adding to an already accomplished life with an advanced degree, or all things in between.

This year’s commencement is not just any commencement, and it is not just any year. This commencement marks the 50th anniversary of this great university’s founding, and it is occurring during one of the greatest health threats to the world — the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world is a completely different place from when the Class of 2021 started their college journey. To be sure, nothing — not a pandemic, not the greatest social challenges of our time — keeps UIS from living and achieving our mission of providing “a uniquely student-centered educational experience both in and out of the classroom.” What these great challenges do is inform HOW we stay true to our mission. Through hard work, grit, innovation and creativity, we have figured how to stay United in Safety this year and live our mission.

To our esteemed Class of 2021: Thank you. Thank you for being such a special class. Thank you for adhering to our robust health and safety standards, for gracefully adapting to last-minute changes and brand-new circumstances. Thank you for your creativity and innovation and for your determination to making this year so successful.

It’s time to go out there and show everyone what “Leadership Lived” really means. Be a leader in every possible way, and put the strength of your shiny new U of I degree on full display.

Congratulations! Go Stars!