Dean's Corner | Meet the Students of CLA

Interim Dean Waltner in academic regalia addressing undergrads during commencement

Time flies! Just two weeks ago, I was inside Mariucci Arena shaking the hands of our students as they processed across the stage, the final leg of their undergraduate journey and the beginning of a new future.

Many of these students entered the University of Minnesota during the fall of 2020—a year that was defined by a global pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and the historic movement his murder sparked in Minnesota and around the world. Perhaps, as I shared in my letter to these new graduates, the most important lessons they learned during the past four years were not learned in the classroom.

But of course, what these resilient students learned in the classroom does indeed matter. 

Their coursework, extracurriculars, internships, study abroad experiences, and leadership roles have set the groundwork to think about the future through a lens of curiosity and compassion. The people they met have shaped their relationships to one other and to society. And the ideas that sparked for them, in the classroom and beyond, represent the training they need to wonder “why” and “what if.”

If you’re feeling nostalgic, I invite you to head over to our CLA Undergraduate Commencement 2024 website. We’ve got recordings of both ceremonies, photos, and a special video that was created to celebrate the tenacity of the Class of 2024. You can also check out our impressive student speakers’ bios and read more about our keynote speaker Holly Kirking Loomis (BA ‘92, international relations). It was a delight to welcome her and her family back to campus.

Fittingly, this month’s package of stories celebrates the CLA undergraduate student experience—who are our CLA students? What kinds of opportunities are they exposed to? And how do these experiences empower them to be future-oriented leaders? Often, when visiting with alumni and donors, I’ll get asked, “but how are the students doing?” I hope this month’s Alma Matters gives you a deeper insight into our dynamic student body. See for yourself, the kids are alright. 

Thank you, as always, for the tremendous role you play as ambassadors of the liberal arts and our transformative college. I hope your early-summer days are off to a relaxing and sunny start.

Take care of yourselves,


Share on: