University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel told UM-Dearborn graduates at Sunday’s commencement ceremony that they have the potential to “lead the way in addressing our greatest challenges.” He addressed more than 1,000 graduates, their families and friends at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor.
Schlissel spoke about the power of earning a degree from an urban, regionally focused university. He said that city leaders throughout the U.S. believe that the type of local and regional impact that happens in metropolitan areas has the potential to resound across the country and around the world. And, referencing the 2017 agenda of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Schlissel shared that many of its guiding principles—including honoring diversity, being a beacon for democracy and working in close connection to the people they serve—are hallmarks of a UM-Dearborn education.
“In other words, Class of 2018, you are in demand,” he said. “This is the power of the UM-Dearborn degrees you have earned. You take with you skills and knowledge to enhance prosperity and our democratic way of life.”
Schlissel went on to say UM-Dearborn was a model for community engagement, noting that graduates already had conducted research and worked with a wide range of partners and diverse teams to address complex issues in surrounding cities, schools and businesses. He applauded graduates for embracing “the challenge of using your talents to create better communities for us all.”
“The inspiration for solutions to the biggest global challenges will come from places like Dearborn—and from graduates like you. Our world needs smart, high-achieving, hard-working, diverse and well-prepared college graduates more than ever,” he said.
“While you are the leaders and best of today, you are also the vanguard of a better tomorrow. Now, you have the opportunity to use your knowledge and experience to lead us to a brighter future.”
Earlier in the ceremony, faculty speaker Joy Beatty encouraged graduates to reflect on the wide range of experiences they’ve had at the university.
“You’ve been exposed to new ideas—from your professors, your classmates and the broader campus environment. You’ve experienced the world, from right here in Dearborn, and you’ve learned from each other,” said Beatty, associate professor of organizational behavior. “You’ve been well-educated to be a citizen of the world, so please be confident that you are prepared to go anywhere.”
Student speaker Monica De Roche called education the “practice of freedom” and encouraged graduates to seek ways to give back to others.
“Here, we have been granted the freedom to develop our own insights, the ability to defend them and the courage to speak them aloud. And that is a remarkable gift,” she said.
“Armed with the knowledge that our voices have value, we can now be the voice for people whose voices are not yet heard in our society. We can stand and use the power of our voices to do good, both here in our local communities and all over the world.”
After the Class of 2018 received their degrees, alumnus Jeff Jewell welcomed them to the vast network of U-M graduates. Jewell (’09 M.S.Fin.) who serves as vice president, controller and chief accounting officer for DTE Energy, told graduates they were joining one of the world’s most recognizable alumni associations
“It is up to you and your fellow graduates—to your left and to your right—to embrace and be a part of this great association by being active in your support of other graduates, current students, and in the communities where you live and work.”
Sunday’s ceremony included recognition of five students, including De Roche, who were honored as Chancellor’s Medallion recipients for their academic record, quality of character, intellect and integrity:
- Redford resident Marybeth Muliett, College of Business
- Dearborn resident Monica De Roche, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
- Livonia resident Stephen Mara, College of Engineering and Computer Science
- Windsor, Ontario, native Brock Rowberry, College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters
- Gibraltar resident Rachel Marple, College of Education, Health, and Human Services
The day also included a tribute to outgoing Chancellor Daniel Little, who will return to the faculty after 18 years in leadership at UM-Dearborn. At one point in the ceremony, students held up signs of congratulations and thanks.
Speaking directly to Little, U-M Regent Katherine White said, "Your dedication to this community, your efforts to grow and strengthen the Dearborn campus continue to inspire us. We appreciate the incredible difference you have made in the lives of our students, in our region and on our campus."