University of Illinois Springfield
May 15, 2010
"Trustee Hasara, President Ikenberry, honored guests, distinguished faculty members, graduates, families and friends:
Welcome to the 2010 commencement ceremony of the University of Illinois Springfield. This is the most gratifying day of the academic year.
Graduates, you are a wonderfully diverse group of individuals in terms of age, life experience, background, race, ethnicity, and lifestyle.
Yet you share something in common.
Each of you has a different perception of yourself today than you had when you began your studies at UIS. You have been changed by the act of being a student, by the discipline and devotion, by the late nights, and yes, by the patience and persistence that was required. You have been changed by what you have learned about the world, about others, and about yourselves. And you have been changed by the fun you had and the friends you have made. I hope that some of those changes even surprised you along the way. That’s the college experience.
Times of war always make things different at colleges and universities. During this academic year, another seven UIS students – making a total of 82 since 9/11 of 2001 – another seven students had their educations interrupted by dropping classes or taking 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 nine years.
On this graduation day, I promise all of you here that the degrees awarded today will serve you well. You have earned your “University of Illinois” degree, here at UIS, the public university in the state capital; it is something that you should be proud of the rest of your life, as we will be of you.
Something that I said in my convocation address at the beginning of this academic year bears repeating today:
It’s important that you know the quality of institution you have attended. UIS has received eight different kinds of major national recognitions in the past two years. Perhaps the best known is that U.S. News and World Report ranks UIS as the fourth best university in the Midwest among institutions like ours. UIS continues to grow in reputation and stature. Our strategic aspiration is to be recognized as one of the top five small public liberal arts universities in the nation, and we are on the way. And as UIS goes up, so does the value of your degree. We’re in this together!
On a personal note, I want to mention that this is my tenth and last commencement as chancellor at UIS. That means I have presided over one-fourth of this still-young institution’s graduation ceremonies, two-thirds of those since we became a part of the University of Illinois. And that’s over 8,000 hands shaken, and over 10,000 degrees awarded, including today’s. Wow!
I take great pride in that, but I do not take credit for it. The kudos belong to you and your fellow alums, your faculty members, your mentors and all those who supported you to get to this day. It is a great accomplishment, and we are all very proud of you.
The day is yours. Enjoy it and celebrate.
We wish only the best, and all the best, for you."
by Richard Ringeisen