Learners to leaders

Dean Coleman appears on stage at CLA Commencement 2022

Just two years ago, I wrote to you about how CLA staff, faculty, and students displayed compassion, innovation, and determination at the highest levels in the midst of the pandemic and as we faced continued social, economic, and racial justice challenges. 

The 2015 Pixar movie Inside Out explained there are moments in our lives when our mind takes a snapshot of our surroundings and feelings and they are imprinted in our minds forever. The writers referred to that process as making a core memory. During our commencement ceremonies, many core memories were being created by the graduates and the thousands of family and friends gathered to celebrate their accomplishments.

While the past two years have shown us that we cannot foresee all of life’s challenges, I am confident that the graduates we welcomed into our alumni ranks will creatively devise the solutions. They will make change in ways we can’t even imagine. I am excited for their future and their impact wherever their next steps may take them.

You can be immensely proud of our CLA graduates who enter a global community of nearly 600,000 Gopher alumni, joining your ranks as scholars, entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, and more, and pursuing a wide range of career and life paths.

Our strength as a college hinges on two factors. First, the crucial importance of the liberal arts mindset for understanding and addressing the key issues of our day and the enduring questions of the centuries. And second, our people. CLA faculty and staff do their work not to serve themselves but to do the most good they can do for others. We strive to be a college that is excellent and the best in the world in our various fields and intellectual endeavors and we simultaneously strive to be the best for the world. 

Quoting from our constitution, “the purpose of the College of Liberal Arts is to advance a thoughtful, knowledgeable, and engaged society through its three-fold mission: to create new knowledge and artistic expression and develop the next generation of scholars; to educate graduate and undergraduate students and prepare them for a productive life of intellectual curiosity, cultural appreciation, and continuous learning; and to engage with our community to achieve the land grant promise of a university in service to the community.”

That is a noble purpose. 

On behalf of the faculty, staff, and students of the College of Liberal Arts, I thank you for your support of the liberal arts and for helping us fulfill our purpose at the highest level.

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