Challenging the status quo: Record number of students graduate from UM-Dearborn

April 26, 2015

More than 900 students graduated from University of Michigan-Dearborn on Sunday.

UM-Dearborn winter 2015 commencement

More than 900 students graduated from University of Michigan-Dearborn on Sunday.

Challenge the status quo and stand up for justice.

Commencement speakers Timothy Leuliette and Michael Brown challenged a record-setting number of University of Michigan-Dearborn graduates with these words during two commencement ceremonies Sunday.

Leuliette, president and chief executive officer of Visteon Corporation, addressed the graduating students of the College of Business, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, and College of Engineering and Computer Science. He said his diploma from UM-Dearborn in 1971 was his ticket to the American dream.

“Life is a complex tapestry of events, some of which you don’t have control of. But your ticket gives you the skills to adapt, to adjust, to learn, to grow stronger. Your ticket is an entry card to a desire and a need for continued learning. It’s a passport to a world of opportunity,” he said. “It’s a hard-earned right of passage that comes with no instruction manual because the mere fact that you got it means you don’t need one.”

Leuliette continued, encouraging graduates to challenge the status quo.

“Do not fight change; embrace it,” said Leuliette, who was the first in his family to graduate from college. “Dream. Dream big. And question everything.”

Brown, CEO and co-founder of City Year, addressed graduates of the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters.

“In many ways, once your formal education is over the learning has just begun. And for better or worse, life doesn’t come with a syllabus, a midterm or final exam,” he said. “I have found that life constantly offers us insights, insights that can crystalize into what best can be called wisdom.”

Brown went on to share some of the knowledge he has gained throughout the years, encouraging graduates to follow their bliss, find their team, commit to their work and act justly.

“Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, ‘The arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice,’” he said. “It is up to all of us to use our skills, our education, our passion and our commitment to grab the arc of the moral universe and aim it as fast and as far as we can.”

UM-Dearborn conferred more than 900 degrees Sunday, including 619 bachelor’s degrees, 306 master’s degrees, one specialist degree and two doctoral degrees.

Five students also were honored as Chancellor’s Medallion Award recipients Sunday in recognition of their academic record, quality of character, intellect and integrity:

  • Livonia resident Kevin Comben, College of Engineering and Computer Science
  • Ypsilanti resident Mariah Mallett, College of Business
  • Canton resident Katherine Pfannes, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Livonia resident David Renard, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
  • Dearborn resident Donia Thalji, College of Education, Health, and Human Services

View more photos on UM-Dearborn's Facebook page.