Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 5/5/09
In recent months, many members of our university community have been focused on the painful but necessary task of reducing Washington State University’s budget for the upcoming biennium.
We all are overdue for a time of celebration, a chance to reflect upon our shared accomplishments and upon the difference that our university makes in so many people’s lives. Commencement ceremonies, which will be held at each of our four campuses in upcoming days, provide that opportunity.
During those ceremonies, we often highlight students who have compiled particularly impressive records of academic achievement, who have made major contributions to their communities, who have had unique life experiences, or who have overcome economic or health-related hardships to earn degrees. Their stories are invariably inspiring.
However, it is a shame that we do not have the time to tell every graduate’s story. Because everyone who will march up to claim his or her WSU degree in Spokane, Pullman, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities has an individual tale of accomplishment, of challenges faced and hurdles overcome, of family or friends, faculty or staff, who provided inspiration and encouragement at the time that it was needed the most.
Over the years, WSU has played a vital role in tens of thousands of those stories. According to our Office of Institutional Research, by the end of this academic year, WSU will have awarded more than 209,000 degrees since our first graduates received theirs in 1897.
That is an impressive number by any measure. What makes it even more remarkable is that WSU awarded its 100,000th degree in 1983. So while it took more than eight decades for WSU to hand out its first 100,000 diplomas, the second 100,000 were awarded – and earned – in less than three decades. That speaks, of course, to the growth of our university and to the growing demand for a WSU education.
WSU graduates have already accomplished something great in their lives and will now move on to do more. They, their family and friends can take great pride in what they have achieved.
So can everyone here who helped along the way. Our graduates’ success stories are what we are all about. In difficult times, it is especially important for us to remember and to celebrate that fact.