Dear Orange Friends:
Not so many years ago, commencement was dying at many American colleges. The ceremonies got longer and longer and had less and less to do with the people graduating. Faculty and graduates stopped going. Many schools got rid of robes and other traditions.
I am glad commencement has made a comeback, because it is the happiest day of my year. Nothing compares with seeing the joy and pride of parents and families—and the joy and relief of the graduates. Commencement is also special because of the faculty and staff. The faculty members I see at commencement are disproportionately those who care deeply about their students, and their interactions are warm. The staff, who have been there for the students in good times and bad, take great pride in being there for the families who have also supported the students. It is a great day.
I’m asking for one favor at this year’s Syracuse Commencement. Among all the honors, we will also be celebrating our faculty who are being granted emeritus status. These 27 retiring faculty members have, between them, likely taught more than 50,000 students, or the equivalent of one-fifth of all living Syracuse graduates. I wish all their former students could be there to thank them, but it will just be us. I’d be grateful if, when they are recognized, we could all cheer as if we were those 50,000. They have done so much for this place.