Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little

Speech: Chancellor Gray-Little's farewell to the Class of 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Remarks as prepared for delivery

So here we are, back where for many of us it all started.

Almost four years ago, I was sitting with many of you in those very seats. It was Traditions Night 2009, and while I wouldn’t have called myself a freshman, I was new to the University of Kansas.

All of us were excited to be here, and to be starting this journey together. We were all wondering what exactly it meant to be a Jayhawk, and we were all doing our best to fit in. I wore my new KU blue shoes and joined in as we learned the Rock Chalk Chant and practiced the fight song clap.

These traditions are reminders of the experience we’ve shared. But as we’ve learned together, there’s much more to being a Jayhawk than singing the alma mater or knowing which wrap at the Underground is the best, or even having a pair of KU blue shoes.

Together we’ve learned the values of the University of Kansas and what it means to be a Jayhawk.

We’ve learned that Jayhawks lead, serve and strive.

KU educates leaders. From boardrooms to newsrooms to classrooms, you’ll find Jayhawks putting their knowledge, skills and talents into practice. And you’ll find Jayhawks giving back to their communities, whether through service learning or by serving in government or the armed forces.

No matter their field, Jayhawks also strive to be better tomorrow than they are today. That’s what makes the Jayhawk such a fearsome competitor. The last thing an opponent wants to see is the word “KANSAS” – whether it’s on a jersey or a race car, on the podium at a debate tournament or at a moot court competition.

We’re infusing that same spirit throughout the university. We’re working to preserve the best of KU, while striving to achieve our bold aspirations for what we know this university can become.

Together we’ve also learned that Jayhawks care, innovate and inspire.

Our JayDocs are second to none, as are Jayhawk nurses, pharmacists, social workers, psychologists and health professionals, who are all dedicated to improving the health and well-being of communities all over the world.

Jayhawk entrepreneurs and innovators create new businesses and grow the economy. And our artists, writers, performers and musicians make the world a more vibrant place, adding meaning to our lives through their talent and creativity.

And since this is a flagship research university, we’ve learned that Jayhawks build, create and discover. From building better prosthetics to more efficient buildings, and from translating Dante to turning breakthroughs into cures, Jayhawks are changing the world.

That drive -- to discover -- lasts long after graduation, because in our hearts, all Jayhawks are scholars.

Your degrees are a mark of distinction, showing the world that you have what it takes to be a Jayhawk. They’re like a membership card, identifying you as a member of this esteemed group.

Of course, most IDs have a photo on them, so we’d better take care of that now.

I want you to get out your phones so you can be part of another KU tradition, one that dates all the way back to the early days of Facebook.

Take a photo of yourself and send it to thehill@ku.edu – we’ll post your photos to the KU Facebook page.

Trust me, your hair looks fine and you didn’t have your eyes closed – there’s no need for another photo. Send the one you took to thehill@ku.edu and we’ll post it to Facebook so the world will know to be ready for the newest class of Jayhawks.

Now graduates, by the authority vested in me by the Board of Regents of the State of Kansas, and upon the recommendation of the several faculties of the university, I now confer upon each of you the degree appropriate to your course of study, entitling you to all the rights, privileges and responsibilities pertaining to that degree.

Congratulations and Rock Chalk!



One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
Nearly $290 million in financial aid annually
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
—ALA
23rd nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets," Military Times
Chancellor's Vision

The mission of the University of Kansas is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities, and making discoveries that change the world.

We will do that by raising the expectations we have for ourselves, the aspirations we have for our state, and the hopes we have for our world.

KU is in the midst of a comprehensive effort to ensure the university is ranked among the top tier of public international research universities.

Through Bold Aspirations, our strategic plan, we're changing the way we prepare students for success. We're fostering research and scholarship across all disciplines. And we're sharing the benefits of a flagship university with our state and world.

This effort is supported by Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, as well as our initiative to reduce administrative costs, Changing for Excellence.