Another successful academic year at the University of Kansas is about to conclude. Students start finals today and Commencement is now less than a week away. It’s sometimes easy to get caught up during the rush of the semester and forget about what a remarkable institution we work for.
Like all universities, KU faces challenges. We’re meeting those challenges head on through the strategic planning processes at KU and KUMC, the Changing for Excellence initiative and the upcoming comprehensive campaign.
But those challenges and the daily stresses of life at a university fade away when you think of the truly transformative effects we have on the lives of our students. I’m most often reminded of that during the lead up to Commencement, especially after reading the stories of some of our remarkable graduates compiled by University Relations each year.
They are stories of personal triumph over adversity, of students excelling in their coursework and of those who have gone outside the classroom to improve our community and world. I’d like to share with you a few examples.
After being active in Alternative Breaks and earning a fellowship to study abroad in Russia, Godfrey Riddle will use his degree in architectural studies to pursue his dream of building “a city where everyone owns a home.”
Meanwhile, Kendall Carithers and Sarah Salzman in the School of Allied Health served as student leaders for Tiles of Hope, a program that brings together volunteers and patients getting treatment at the KU Cancer Center’s blood and marrow transplant unit.
Businesswoman Cynthia Bishop was able to complete her degree in business administration at the Edwards Campus as part of an academic program made possible by the people of Johnson County through the research and education triangle they voted to create.
And Nick Mott, who double majored in philosophy and sociology, took advantage of nearly every type of opportunity available to KU students. He served as a research assistant and a peer educator. He studied abroad, interned for a congressional campaign, worked on sustainability projects in California and volunteered in Haiti.
These are just a handful of the stories that could be told about our graduates – each of whom is unique and worthy of recognition.
That’s why I ask that you join us at Commencement this Sunday as we recognize all of our 2011 graduates. Faculty members are invited to participate in the “gauntlet” that graduates walk through on the field, while the entire community is invited to join us in Memorial Stadium and on the Hill.
KU exists to help students become graduates. They’re who we ultimately serve. And along with you and your accomplishments, they provide thousands more reasons why I’m proud to lead this university.