Commencement 2015: President Clayton Spencer’s welcome

Remarks as delivered.

Welcome to the 149th Commencement of Bates College. This is the moment when we gather as a community to celebrate the accomplishments and aspirations of the Class of 2015, when you, students, let us dream with you about what you will do and who you will become.

Seniors, this ceremony is pretty much all about you. You will share the stage with individuals who are models of lives well-lived and work well done. You will be privileged to hear words that are smart, and wise, and important — all crafted as a gift for you at this moment in your lives. And you will be given a document certifying that you have met all of the requirements of the Bates degree. No further questions need be asked.

Before turning to the ceremony, I would like to share with this wonderful assemblage of family, friends, and admirers, and all of you who may be watching on other devices, I’d like to share with you a few fun facts about the Class of 2015.

Seniors you may be surprised to learn some of these. You are a stunningly accomplished group.

  • 484 seniors will receive degrees today, representing 32 states and 37 countries.
  • 32 of you are the first in your family to graduate from college.
  • Two thirds of you more or less have studied abroad, and 93 are double majors.
  • One of you is a triple major. I promise I won’t call you out!
  • 37 of you wrote honors thesis in your departments on a year-long basis.
  • 40 percent of you have participated in a varsity sport
  • 69 of you have been named NESCAC All-Academic athletes while at Bates, signifying outstanding achievement in both sports and the classroom.

While we’re on athletics, I should mention that I hope some of you are rowers from the NCAA championship rowing team.

Fourteen among you have won Fulbright fellowships — a record for Bates and among the highest numbers in the nation. One senior has been awarded a Watson Fellowship to study sustainable livestock practices in Finland, Australia, and a remote island in the South Atlantic, and one of you will use a Davis Projects for Peace grant to create a public health facility in a remote region of the Peruvian Andes.

And you have achieved all of this, while also giving back. Members of the Class of 2015 have performed over 80,000 hours of community-engaged learning, research, and volunteer work.

Please join me in recognizing the amazing Class of 2015.

And now I would like to ask members of the Class of 2015 to rise if you will. And I would like you, in a moment, to together thank all who are gathered here in solidarity and support of who you are, what you’ve done, and how the promise of this day will be fulfilled.

Let us welcome and thank mothers and fathers and guardians who made it possible for you to have this experience: grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who have traveled with you to be here today on your special day; professors who delighted you with their passion, worked with you when things got hard, and steered you through the thesis process; and staff whose work on this campus makes our lives possible every day and who have turned themselves inside out setting up this huge Commencement platform in two entirely different locations.

And I’d also like us to thank friends in Lewiston and Auburn who enrich our lives in every way.

So if the class could give a round of applause for all the support.

Thank you.

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