Remarks by Chancellor Richard Ringeisen
University of Illinois at Springfield

Saturday, May 16, 2009
Prairie Capital Convention Center

Commencement 2009

Honored guests, distinguished faculty members, graduates, families and friends:

Welcome to the 2009 commencement ceremony for the University of Illinois at Springfield. Without question, this moment is the most gratifying of the year. We look out and see our graduates, their faculty, families and friends gathered together for this ceremony. All that we strive for and stand for is really about preparation for this day when we celebrate a milestone in the lives of our graduates.

While you are a wonderfully diverse group of individuals, in terms of age, life experience, background, race, ethnicity, and lifestyle, you all share at least two things in common. First, you value the role that education can play in helping you to become more informed citizens who are engaged in your communities and in the world around you. And you know that learning goes on beyond formal education to create new
possibilities, challenge long-held beliefs, and forge new ways of thinking and being.

As Henry Ford once said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

A young, curious mind at any age gives you the ability to respond to change and to improve life for yourselves and for others.

Second, each of you shares in common a different perception of yourself today than you had when you began your studies at UIS. You have been changed by the very act of being a student, by the discipline and devotion, and yes, the patience and persistence that was required. You have been changed by what you have learned about the world, about others, and about yourselves. You have been changed by the knowledge that you can accomplish what you set out to do, no matter how difficult it
is or how long it takes.

Times of war always make things different at colleges and universities. During this academic year, another seven (7) UIS students – making a total of 82 since 9-11 of 2001 – another seven students had their educations interrupted because they had
to drop classes or take incompletes because they were called to active duty in the U.S. military.

To each of them, I say on behalf of the UIS community, thank you for your sacrifices, and may you return to us quickly and in good health.

We are also aware that several of you with us today still have loved ones in Iraq, Afghanistan, or on active duty in other places. Like you, we hope for their safe return, and in the meantime, they are in our thoughts today.

I ask all of you to give a round of applause to all of our students and graduates who have served our country in a special way, especially in the past eight years.

On this graduation day, I promise all of you here that the degrees awarded today will serve you well and will grow in value as UIS continues to grow in reputation and stature.UIS’ future is much like its students – bright and full of promise. Our aspiration is to be recognized as one of the top public liberal arts universities in the nation. And it is happening. We are achieving academic excellence by enriching people’s lives and making a difference in the world. Those are our strategic goals, and we will pursue the realization of them with the same tireless determination with which you pursued the academic credentials you will receive today.

But everybody knows that a university is best known for its graduates. So I want you to know we are very proud of you. I don’t say that lightly. We ARE very proud of you. We are proud that you have shared some important years of your lives with us.

All of us on this stage feel privileged to share in your accomplishment. This is your day. We wish only the best, and all the best, for you.

This is a special day for all of our students, faculty, staff, and for our entire university. It is a celebration of what you—and we—have accomplished together. You have good reason to be very proud of yourselves today. We are very proud of you, too.

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