Commencement represents the culmination of a journey for students, but few realize it represents the same for the administrators who walked with them. For first-time presidents, the magnitude of the responsibilities they carry to ensure the success of future generations may hit them as they look out on the sea of faces. For others, new and seasoned, recognizing the individual triumphs of the students who walk across the stage, knowing their stories and what they had to overcome to get to that moment is validation of the importance of their work — it's easy to get bogged down in meetings and administrative tasks, but graduation exercises are the most glaring reminder that the job is really about the students and their success.
We asked four university presidents to reflect on their commencement exercises and share the moments that most stuck out to them. Here's what they had to say:
Trinity University President Patricia McGuire excitedly reflected on the accomplishments of the college's first class of graduating DREAMers.
Marvin Krislov and Pareena Lawrence just finished their first year at the helm of Pace University and Hollins University, respectively. Krisolov said he was particularly moved by the stories of individual students at his institution as well.
For Lawrence, seeing the intergenerational representation of faces in the audience made her realize for the first time just how much institutions of higher education really are the keepers of the American dream.
And for Clemson President Jim Clements, the emotional recognition of students with intellectual disabilities, who are not enrolled in degree programs, but who are sharing in the college experience, is the most moving part of every ceremony.