The closer I get to retirement, the more meaningful Carroll graduations, past traditions, and the relationships I have formed with students become. Carroll has changed greatly since I wrote the message to seniors below. Baccalaureate is now at 5:00 Saturday evening without Faculty regalia; Commencement is now at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The physical appearance of Carroll continues to change daily with new buildings. Soon there will be a transition of Carroll Presidents–I have personally known five of them since I arrived in February of 1978. Emeriti faculty look younger to me every day:).
My feelings about my overall Carroll experience haven’t changed from what I wrote five years ago (or how I felt almost forty years ago) so I re-share them here–with a few photos since then!
As is my habit of the past 35 years, I am sitting in my office on this Sunday morning of Commencement, reflecting. I drive in early to ensure getting a parking place before the proud families start arriving. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, babies, babies-soon-to-join-the world—-the campus explodes with sounds, colors, emotions, and celebratory chaos. Often I walk around campus taking photos (or accepting an invitation to be photographed).
My emotions are mixed–not unlike that of the soon-to-be-graduates. Joy–sorrow–elation–sadness–weariness–rejuvenation. At the end of a long the day sometime around 4:30 –emptiness, and some poignant, positive residual reminders. I often tease my graduating research assistants that upon their exit from campus I “exorcise” our shared office space to better allow me to adjust to the temporary emotional vacuum caused by their absence from “Dr. David’s Neighborhood.” When you graduate, you remain in my memories as I have come to know you–and forever at that age! Forever young.
I can hear chapel bells. Soon I’ll hear the chimes of the campus hymn and that of the alma mater. At 10:00 I’ll attend the Baccalaureate ceremony marching in wearing my cap and gown. According to the “certificate of appreciation” I recently received this is my 35th year of service to the institution. I’ll immediately follow Provost Passaro, and Dean Byler into the auditorium. Sitting in the front row has its liabilities as I’ll feel that I must behave uncharacteristically well-mannered!
Each Carroll Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremony is special to me just as is each student whom I have gotten to know. I have chosen (or been called) to teach and to learn and though they (you) may not realize it, I truly do learn so much from my students and from the challenges of trying to teach them well.
Thank you, graduating seniors past and present (and for a few ever so short more years future) for all YOU have taught me. Put to good use your many talents, your energy, your playfulness, your empathy, your resilience and your creative ideas to make the world a better place. Come to appreciate (as I did upon graduating from Oberlin College in 1971) that you have been privileged to receive a good education due not only to your own sacrifices and hard work but also to the many members of the larger community whom you may never have met or whom you took for granted–Board Members, Administration, Staff, Faculty, Physical Plant Staff, and Alumni–who deeply care about you.
The bells call me. And I have promises to keep…