May 26, 2015
Dear CC Alumni and Parents,
Colorado College students are an amazing group, and members of the Class of 2015 demonstrated that they have the energy, confidence, and creativity to achieve whatever they put their minds to!
This year’s Commencement traditions were a wonderful celebration of the class’ CC experiences. In their Baccalaureate service, 482 seniors spoke as one, expressing their gratitude for the things that will pass – like Rastall ice cream for breakfast, Baca trips, and block breaks, and they cheered for their fellow classmates in the Bluegrass Ensemble. During Commencement, graduating students tossed a beach ball in the Broadmoor World Arena because rain brought the graduation indoors for the first time in many years. They strode across the stage to the cheers of family and friends. I reflected on the accomplishments and potential of our students as we said goodbye to the Class of 2015.
The remarks from our speakers were full of reflection of what our seniors’ experiences mean, with a number of references to an earlier generation. Like all good traditions, our Commencement weekend speeches reminded our graduates of their roots and encouraged them to embrace their wings.
In his Baccalaureate address, “Let the Sunshine In,” Professor of Music Michael Grace used Kant’s philosophy as well as musical selections from Beethoven and the ’60’s musical “Hair” to illustrate to students that through their education they learned about both dissent and reason, and why those things matter.
Sunshine was exactly what was wanted on Commencement morning, but the speakers shed welcome light of a different kind. In her speech, “Voyager; There are no Bridges, One Builds Them as One Walks,” student speaker Han Sayles ’15 quoted poet Gloria Anzaldúa, and described how her early morning views of Pikes Peak were secondary to the view of the college community she had while delivering the New York Times across campus every morning in her student job. She emphasized that CC graduates are prepared to live compassionate lives.
William “Bro” Adams ’72, chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, brought the weekend’s various themes together in his Commencement address, “The Gifts of the College,” reflecting on how his experience at CC ignited in him a passion for the humanities, his sense of purpose clarified by the “gap year” experience he wished on no student: three years of military service punctuated by a year in Vietnam. He emphatically reminded our students that the education they received is the best on the planet, with responsibilities to act on that great gift by leading a life of leadership and humanity.
No one could be better examples of making positive change for our students than our honorary degree recipients: Paul Morin, a geospatial expert and digital cartographer; Pam Shockley-Zalabak, chancellor of the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs; and Bruce McCaw ’68, a pioneer in cellular communications and the aerospace industry and a dedicated humanitarian and philanthropic leader.
CC students are driven to make positive change, and the Class of 2015 proved that change begins locally, raising their class gift of $16,356.60. Largely directed for general college support, they also designated a portion of the gift to GROW, an organization dedicated to supporting student mental health, honoring their late classmate Emily Spiegel.
It is bittersweet to say goodbye to our graduates. We will miss them even as we are excited for their next adventures. Thanks to their parents and families for supporting their CC educations.
I wish you an enjoyable summer. We will be busy here with Summer Session, Summer Music Festival, and other CC summer traditions — including much work in support of another great year to come. I look forward to welcoming all of our new and returning students to campus in the fall!