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Washington State University

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Elson S. Floyd, PhD - 12/16/09

Forward Together

On Saturday, we celebrated fall commencement on our Pullman campus. The event has been a part of our academic calendar since 2001; now it is hard to imagine how we did without it.

It seems to me that fall commencement, coming as it does in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, is very much in keeping with the spirit of the season. The holidays provide us with opportunities to gather with family and friends and to reflect upon their importance in our lives. And so, in its own way, does commencement.

Several times during the ceremony, we make a point of recognizing all the people who supported these graduates along the way. Each scholar who receives her or his diploma is fulfilling an individual dream, certainly, but it is a dream that has been shared by so many – some of whom are watching intently from the audience – who have been instrumental in that success.

Great endeavors—whether earning a degree or building a world-class university—require that kind of dedication. They require both individual initiative and shared vision. When obstacles appear, you sometimes need help in finding the best route to your destination, whether you are a university student or a university president.

As this calendar year draws to a close, I want to express my appreciation to all of those in the Cougar family—faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents, supporters—who have done so much to keep our university on course.

I recognize that this has been, in many ways, a difficult year. I know the new year will pose challenges as well. However, even when news reports are grim, the quality of the people I talk with and work with every day helps maintain my optimism. Your contributions are remarkable; your positive spirit keeps us moving forward.

In the days ahead, as you celebrate the season, I hope the rush of events does not preclude a bit of quiet contemplation. We draw our strength from the web of those around us. We need to recognize that, and recognize them.

In that spirit, I would like to thank you for everything you do. And Carmento and I want to wish you all a most happy and fulfilling holiday season.