An Important Message From the Dean.....
Graduation is a rite of passage in the lives of families fortunate enough to have loved ones in the commencement line. The ceremony itself is older than the Pomp and Circumstance Military March composed by Sir Edward Elgar (in Liverpool) in 1901. There is something about the achievements of students, their faces, and the happiness of their parents and friends as well as the repetitive and rhythmic quality of the music itself that takes my breath away and makes all the hard and necessary labor of the past year immensely satisfying.
Occurring at the same time as the preparations for graduation are the sights and sounds of students just completing their first, second and third years of study. I see their family and friends drive in to help collect them and their voluminous belongings. In a second they are whisked off for the summer. I see that they have achieved a level of self-awareness and confidence in their capacity to learn, discover and relate to others. Some will head off to jobs and vacations. I know that at least 170 CLAS students will return shortly to summer school.
Notes have begun to reach my desk about graduate school acceptances and job offers; students are stopping by to talk about next steps; some are expressing their need for a well-earned break. The administration and faculty are currently finalizing the Class of 2018, balancing budgets, creating new curricula, welcoming transfer students and adult learners and inaugurating our community college partnerships. There is no time now to fully process the year, my own thoughts, or the highs and lows of work life. At some point, though, we all share the need to stand back and take stock. It is essential to take time to ponder, reflect, evaluate and recalibrate. The students who have worked hard and accomplished much over three or four years will find it profitable to take a moment to check in with their aspirations and dreams before taking next steps. After their summer respite, our faculty will welcome continuing students with a renewed passion for teaching, mentorship and scholarship.
As we bid our adieus to 178 CLAS graduating seniors who will walk across and off the undergraduate stage, we do so knowing that they all possess the grit, intelligence and grace to embrace new and old challenges confronting our nation, their communities and families. We do so knowing that Lesley University’s graduates will light up pupils’ minds and hearts and make classrooms safe spaces for learning and expression; others will compete well in graduate and professional school and the world of work. More than that, we know that each one will make a unique contribution to reducing the inequality that surrounds this nation and world—one behavioral scientist, teacher, biologist, social worker, poet, historian, global leader, businessman and woman at a time.
It is perhaps the endurance of Elgar’s March and the dedication and fervor of our commitment to educate well each generation that give the days and weeks leading up to commencement their special tone and tenor. The excitement of graduation illuminates the faces and utterances of seniors and their loved ones. Commencement is as much an opening as it is a culmination. It is hopefulness and possibility. At the same time, as we congratulate another class of individuals, we might ask what difference we have made and can make in the lives of others whose circumstances did not permit them a college education. Commencement is a time to ponder how we might give equal opportunity and equality of opportunity a fighting chance.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Susan R. Merrifield
Professor Emeritus of English Education
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