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Spring Commencement 2017

May 13, 2017

Good Afternoon,

Welcome Miami University, Class of 2017!

It is my great pleasure to welcome you and your guests to our 178th Spring Commencement.

Please remain standing for the Presentation of the Colors and the National Anthem, which will be led by Seth Wagner, Miami Class of 2017.

Thank you so much to our ROTC Units for presenting the National colors today. We appreciate your incredible dedication and commitment. We also appreciate the commitment of all who have served our nation.

For the veterans, and those who currently serve, we ask that you please stand to be recognized.

Thank you for your service to our country.

Welcome Miami students, family, friends, faculty, staff, and esteemed guests with us today. Welcome to those watching the ceremony live on the Internet. This is a tremendous day of celebration for the Miami community.

3,940 students from the Oxford, Hamilton, and Middletown campuses, are receiving their associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees today!

Miami University, Class of 2017, you have made it! or, in Myaamia (mee-ahm-e-ah) language—toopeeliyiiki (too-pay-lee-e-kah), meaning "accomplishment." We are so proud of you all.

We all come to this moment with mixed emotions. Chances are, you have had some emotional goodbyes. Maybe you visited some special spots on campus to reminisce: the Seal, Upham Arch, Freedom Summer Memorial, the Sundial, Hawk Haven, or the Harrier's Nest. This is also a moving personal milestone for Renate and me. It is our first May graduation.

We are so excited to be a part of your special day—but we will miss you all. You welcomed us to Miami so warmly, and we hope to welcome you back for many visits in the future.

Let me suggest that today is all about gratitude. First, I want to tell you on behalf of the university, our faculty, and staff, that we are all very proud of you. We are grateful for what you have given us during your time at Miami. You have inspired us—with the way you have supported and cared for your fellow Miamians; the way you have reached out to our community in service; the way you have made an impact across the world with your selfless passion and compassion. We are grateful to you for choosing Miami and spending these years with us.

You are the best of the best. You lead a life of higher purpose. You put mission and others before self. You direct your unsurpassed energy, talent, and creativity for the good of others.

We're grateful for you.

Let us now talk about what you have to be thankful for.

There are people all around this stadium and beyond who share in your accomplishments. You owe much to your family and friends.

They gave you your life; they inspired you to dream; and they put your dreams within reach. I am personally grateful to all of your family and friends here today who equipped you with great gifts and supported your Miami Experience.

I now ask all graduates to stand.

Turn to your family and friends, and demonstrate your sincere appreciation and gratitude by applauding all who made this day possible.

Before you sit down. I would like all of you to join me now in reciting the Code which calls us to Love, Honor, and make proud those who helped you on your journey. Please turn to the last page in the program

I Am Miami.

I believe...
that a liberal education is grounded in qualities of character and intellect.

I stand...
for honesty, integrity, and the importance of moral conduct.

I respect...
the dignity, rights, and property of others and their right to hold and express disparate beliefs.

I defend...
the freedom of inquiry that is the heart of learning.

I exercise...
good judgment and believe in personal responsibility.

I welcome...
a diversity of people, ideas, and experiences.

I embrace...
the spirit, academic rigor, opportunities, and challenges of a Miami Experience, preparing me to make the world a better place.

I demonstrate...
Love and Honor by supporting and caring for my fellow Miamians.

And because I Am Miami,

I act...
through my words and deeds in ways that reflect these values and beliefs.

With a deep sense of accomplishment and gratitude,

I will...
Love, Honor, and make proud those who help me earn the joy and privilege of saying,

"To think that in such a place, I led such a life."

Now you can be seated. You are now the first graduating class to recite the code at commencement—just as you were the first class to recite it at convocation as freshman.

And now you are ready to take the next big step in your life.

Today we celebrate you—we celebrate all that you have accomplished at Miami. We celebrate the promise of what is to come as you embark on a new journey in your life. Today, you are the center of our universe.

Think for a moment about how different you are from that day when you first stepped onto a Miami campus. Recognize how your confidence has grown; how your capabilities have multiplied; how your values have matured; and how the foundations of learning for the rest of your life have become established.

Let us talk about something we all have in common, across divisions and across our campuses—The Miami Plan, our liberal arts focus. Maybe it just looks like a list of boxes to check: Humanities—check. Science—check. Fine Arts—Check. English—Check. But you will soon discover, if you have not already, that our Miami Plan will make a tremendous impact on your professional career and your life.

It has prepared you for the complex, dynamic workplace and world you are entering. It has equipped you not only with wisdom but also with character, building on the foundation laid by your family and friends.

You have the courage to leave your comfort zone for the promise of progress. You have the resilience to overcome obstacles and negativity. You have the humility to recognize a better way—even pivoting to turn failure into success.

As you prepare for your new journey in your career and life, you are storing away treasured memories from your time at Miami. Those special places. Those special friends. Those special classes. Those special moments. Let me suggest that you pack in the Miami Plan—where you can reach for it on the job, in your relationships, as you take on leadership responsibilities.

You take with you the hallmarks of a liberal arts education that produces critical thinkers and informed citizens. You have the equipment you need for success as an individual and important contributor to society.

Miami's legacy ultimately rests on the accomplishments of you. Your hopes and dreams, creativity, imagination, and passion will drive change, uplift others, and build a better world.

In a few minutes, we will hear from our commencement speaker, Daryl Baldwin. He is a member of our faculty, and he exemplifies how Miamians impact the world.

Later in the ceremony, Renate will introduce this amazing and accomplished Miamian.

Over the past 45 years, the relationship between Miami University and the Miami Tribe has strengthened and grown into a special bond of deep mutual respect, commitment, and dedication. As a symbol of this partnership, Chief of the Miami Tribe Doug Lankford wears a special stole. Our trustees wear special stoles as well, designed in consultation with Professor Baldwin and the Miami Tribe. All of the stoles have the seal of the Miami Tribe, and of Miami University, and include the words "kiiloona (kee-loon-a) myaamiaki (mee-ahm-e-aki)," meaning "We are Miami."

Thank you to the Tribe for allowing us to share your seal as a symbol of partnership and respect. A special thank you to Karen Baldwin who designed and handcrafted the Chief's stole and who also assisted in crafting each of the trustees' stoles. It is fitting that today is the first time our trustees have worn these special stoles—to celebrate our longstanding partnership with the Miami Tribe.

As the Miami tribe would say—Ninteehimkonci (Nin-Tea-Him-Con-C)—we are grateful for this partnership from the heart—a diversity of people, ideas, and experiences. Thank you to the Miami Tribe for being our partner.

I now want to call attention to all the women and men who serve on the faculty of Miami University. It is with considerable pride that I ask all of the Miami faculty here today, including our emeriti professors in the audience, to stand and be recognized for their commitment to today's graduates.

You have given our students a path to a future career, a broad liberal arts education, Love and honor in a robust and intellectual challenging education. We are grateful to our faculty and admire all that you do for Miami. You inspire us all with your teaching, scholarship and service.

Thank you. Please be seated.

We are also grateful for our wonderful staff who support our students and make our campuses so special and perfect—from the residence halls and the dining facilities to the offices, classrooms and the beautiful landscaping. In every corner of Miami this staff takes such pride in everything they do—we thank you for showing such Love and Honor in our community. 

I ask all Miami University staff here today to please stand to be recognized.

Thank you. Please be seated.

Faculty, staff, thank you again. You can take great pride in this remarkable class and the legacy of Love and Honor that we are sending into the world today.

<Introduction of speaker Daryl Baldwin, and his remarks>

Daryl, thank you so much for joining us this afternoon and for inspiring the graduating Class of 2017 with your ingenuity, your wisdom, and your commitment to growing a diverse community.

Daryl would you please join me again at the podium?

Professor Baldwin, it is an honor for all of us at Miami University to recognize formally your accomplishments as a globally recognized leader in the revitalization of lost languages, the careful nurturing of forgotten cultures and importantly, your respect for all people. We applaud you for your dedication to making the world a better and more inclusive place.

It is a privilege, therefore, for me to confer on you, with the approval of the Faculty and the Board of Trustees, of Miami University and under the authority by the State of Ohio, the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters. I now present you with this diploma and request that you be vested with your doctoral hood. Congratulations.

<Academic honors recognition>

Now, I call upon Provost Phyllis Callahan to introduce the academic deans for the presentation of candidates for degrees.

<Presentation of degrees>

Let me close this ceremony with a few words directed to the graduates who are about to scatter into the world.

First, we are grateful to all of you.

As college graduates, you will face an increasingly global and diverse world, a world both more challenging and more promising. We have prepared you to seize those opportunities and to meet those challenges, many of which have yet to be imagined.

That is the value of a Miami education. I hope that you have an enormous sense of pride in becoming a Miami graduate. Wherever you go. Whatever you do. You will remember your Miami Experience as a special time in your life. As the plaque on the sculpture located next to the Hub reads, "To think that in such a place, I led such a life."

I encourage all of you to remember those special moments that you have had at Miami—the people you have met; the things you have done; and the life you have led. These are the common bonds that Miamians throughout the world share. They are what we mean by the phrase "Love and Honor." May that phrase always evoke special meaning and pride—you have lived it here.

Now you will take it wherever your journey in life takes you. The beauty of this university—the pristine landscape, the collegiate architecture—stays on our campuses. However, the real beauty lies within all of you—Love and Honor—that you will carry throughout the world. Spread it with pride. The world needs Miami graduates. The world needs you.

And now I ask of you, as your very first act as alumni of Miami University, to rise together and join in singing our Alma Mater.

Love and Honor. Congratulations, Class of 2017!