College of Creative Arts Recognition Ceremony

CCA graduates in red caps and gowns listen to a speaker at the CCA Recognition Ceremony at Goggin Ice Arena

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

In alignment with State of Ohio capacity guidelines, Miami will host nine ceremonies (eight divisional and one for the Class of 2020) at Yager Stadium (an outdoor venue) rain or shine. The College of Creative Arts Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 14, 1:30 p.m. 

Ceremonies will incorporate remarks from 2021 Commencement speaker Dr. Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins and allow graduates in attendance to be individually recognized as they walk across the commencement stage. 

To maintain social distancing and to meet capacity limits, each graduate is permitted to invite up to six guests to the ceremony. Guests will have assigned seats in “pods” that are socially distanced from other attendees. All participants, graduates, guests, and staff will be required to wear a face mask and maintain social distancing during the events. 

University officials continue to monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure proper distancing and the implementation of strategies to help minimize the risk of coronavirus transmission. Should parameters for safely gathering change and ceremony details change, Miami will notify the community as soon as possible. 

More details, including the procedure for ticket orders, will be shared in the coming weeks on the Commencement website. The timing of the divisional ceremonies is as follows. 

Thursday, May 13
7 p.m. Class of 2020
Friday, May 14
1:30 p.m. -  College of Creative Arts
7 p.m. - College of Liberal Arts and Applied Science (Miami Regionals)
Saturday, May 15
8 a.m. - College of Engineering and Computing
1:30 p.m. - College of Arts and Science (majors TBD)
7 p.m. - College of Arts and Science (majors TBD)
Sunday, May 16
8 a.m. - College of Education, Health and Society
1:30 p.m. - Farmer School of Business (majors TBD)
7 p.m. - Farmer School of Business (majors TBD)

All ceremonies will be live-streamed, please check back for updates.

For more information about how Miami University is responding to the coronavirus pandemic, please visit  Coronavirus (COVID-19)


2019 Spring Commencement Student Speaker

Madeline Mitchell, graduating senior (theatre)

Transcript of Speech

I remember our freshman year when Dean Mullenix started her tirade against the term “starving artist.” This widely-used phrase in our society, she said, was sending a negative message about what we, students, were going to do with our futures. It forced us to make a joke of ourselves, to not strive for the greatness that we could be. It allowed us to be okay with falling into a trap, the trap of the “starving artist,” which Liz said not only communicated a negative message about our program, but a message that was completely not true. Miami graduates, she said, are not starving artists, but thriving artists. She constantly reminds us of the wonderful work that our peers are doing, and of alumni who have blossomed into leaders in their fields.

Liz coined the expression “thriving artist” four years ago, and no one in Miami University’s College of Creative Arts has stopped singing those words ever since. From the beginning, she was determined not to let us forget it. Her voice would ring out in my THE107 class, through the hallways and even in my head when she wasn’t around: “young people, you are and will be thriving artists.”

At first we all laughed, noticing the clear resistance to “starving artist,” and delighted in the exuberance from our dean and the rest of our faculty. They would not allow us to fail. We were destined. We would be, all of us, without a doubt, thriving artists. In our classes, our professors couldn’t help but give a sly wink-and-nudge when they proclaimed that one of the learning objectives for the course would help us to be future “thriving artists.” When I hung out with friends outside of class, staying up until 4 in the morning to work on a box set project complete with tiny figurine people to play inside my miniature, mediocre set design (Gion, I really did try), we would look at each other with sleep-deprived tears in our eyes and weakly chant: “thriving artists.”

I distinctly remember a moment towards the end of freshman year when I was walking from Gion’s fundamentals of design class to grab lunch before a rehearsal. I was waddling towards the stairs of Hiestand Hall with my 60-pound backpack strapped on, my guitar slung over my right shoulder, an oversized sketchbook under my left arm and a toolbox of paint supplies in my left hand. I will admit that I looked ridiculous. And I believe that it was Julia Guichard, the theatre department chair, who saw me walking down the hall and when we locked eyes, we could not stop laughing. My classmates, Julia and I all stood in the hallway glowing in the absurdity of it all: I could barely walk from of the supplies I was carrying, but in the same breath, I couldn’t have been happier. I was in the midst of a busy day filled with the work I love to do. I really was thriving.

It’s silly, I know, but this expression means a lot to me. It has become synonymous with the phrases that the university writes on pretty stationery and carves into plaques; phrases we all roll our eyes at but secretly admire, like, “to think in such a place, I led such a life” or, “the most beautiful campus that there ever was,” or even, “love and honor.” “Thriving artists” is our own personal verbiage in the College of Creative Arts, and has grown into so much more that a soapbox moment from our wonderful dean.

So, what does it mean to be a thriving artist? When we leave Oxford and go off into the world, what will we bring with us from our education here at Miami? It might mean something different to each of us. For me, being a thriving artist means being unapologetic. It means being authentic and real; truthful and creative; empathetic and opinionated. Thriving artists know who they are and are not afraid to share themselves with the world; they are smart, brave, dedicated and kind. Thriving artists use their skills to help better humanity, and do so because they know that it is their responsibility and their destiny to do so. There is another thing that I think thriving artists have a responsibility to do.

This year I was a part of the Humanities Center’s Altman Program, which this year had a theme of “truth and lies.” I, specifically, was parsing out the relationship between truth and lies and the theatre world, or truth and lies in relation to artistry, and in my research I came across this quote from Michael Tanner, author and former philosophy lecturer at the University of Cambridge. He wrote: “Beauty, in Nietzsche’s early view, is both an intimation of the horror of life and a consolation for it.… Art, at its greatest, tells the truth and makes it possible to bear it.”

We are the comfort for humanity, the ones who not only confirm what society knows to be true, but also can turn around and find the beauty in these truths. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we are living in a rather ugly world today. Variations of hatred, fear and unfairness rule the headlines of our evening news. We are reminded, even in our own little Oxford bubble, of the terrible ways in which people can treat one another, how people of privilege take advantage of those with no power. But we, thriving artists, are not allowed to crawl away into a dark hole of avoidance. We are not allowed to ignore these truths, but we will do our best to make it possible to bear them. We are thriving artists; we must. With a paintbrush, through an innovative graphic, by way of a building design, in the notes of a piano concerto, through a new play, in the rhythm of a tap dance or through the sound of a rumbling baritone; we thriving artists will make sure that this life is a bearable one. When there seems to be no beauty left in the world, we will help rediscover the light. It’s what we were born to do.

I have one last thing that I’d like to leave you all with. How many of us went to see "Dwight Schrute" when he came to visit Miami this spring? Talk about a show that takes the ugly truth and makes it bearable. The mundanity of the office life, incompetent bosses and annoying coworkers - I hope that none of us have to experience these things. In his talk, you might remember that Rainn Wilson was not necessarily very willing to talk about The Office, but what he did talk about was incredibly moving. He talked about his own responsibility to make life bearable. He is a theatre and digital artist, after all. And one of the key pieces of advice he gave to us was to be grateful. One of the most surefire ways to increase your own happiness, he said, was to show gratitude to someone else. So, I’d like to close out my time talking with you all by maximizing my happiness, and I hope that you all can also vicariously collect joy through my thank-yous.

First, to our professors: thank you for dealing with our collective naivete and for becoming our biggest fans and greatest friends despite our antics to get out of class 5 minutes early. Thank you for the outside-of-class hours you spent making sure that we understood the lesson, to calm our fears of the future and just getting to know us. To our parents: thank you for setting us up to succeed. Thank you for your unconditional love and for supporting us in our dreams to pursue a life in the arts. And for the care packages - nothing made me feel more loved than picking up a Costco-sized bag of Skittles from the package center. To our siblings, for the midnight FaceTime calls and for making us laugh until we cry. You were the best part of coming home for winter break, and our favorite visitors when you crashed our moms and dads weekends in Oxford. To Dean Mullenix: thank you for reminding us that we are destined for greatness and for never missing a production, a gallery showcase, a conference or a chance to catch up in the hallway. Not every college is like ours, and I think we can all agree that the College of Creative Arts thrives because of your dedication. We are so grateful for you.

And, finally, to my classmates, thank you. Thank you for bringing your own authentic, unique selves to the table. Thank you for participating in hard conversations, for being vulnerable and for offering your ideas and your time to make this the most impactful four years of our lives. Thank you for learning with me. Thank you for growing with me. Thank you for calling me out on the things I need to work on and then helping me get to where I need to be. Thank you for making the late nights and hard times better than bearable. Thank you for your kindness, for your friendships, for willingly lending yourselves over to me and to each other to build a community of love and honor. I am overwhelmed by my gratitude for you all, not only for what you have done while here at Miami, but for the relationships that will continue out there, in the real world. When we take our Brick wristbands off and clear the polaroid photos off of our bedroom walls, we’ll have to move on and start acting like real adults. We’ll have to start worrying about negotiating contracts, buying grown-up furniture and learning how to cook something other than Kraft mac-n-cheese. Getting dental will be our new version of a Wednesday night steak dinner special at Stein’s. But when you take out those polaroids and look in on this former life of mismatched couches and empty beer bottles as living room decor, I hope that you all know how special this was. And I hope you feel grateful. And I hope you can hear, over the sounds of the city below, or your family playing board games in the kitchen, or whatever other soundtrack your future life may have; I hope you hear, clear as a bell, the pride of your classmates, professors and dean telling you: “You did it. You are a thriving artist. And you should be so, so proud.”