2015 Commencement Remarks to the Class of 2015
Your Majesty, Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen. Welcome to this happy celebration of achievement! Congratulations to the graduates of 2015, and a warm welcome to your family and friends who helped you on your journey! On this day, when we mark PLU’s 125th anniversary year—our Quasquicentennial Jubilee—the entire global PLU community is deeply honored by the presence of His Majesty on this historic occasion. PLU is proud of our 125-year history, and of the Norwegian pioneers who brought the Lutheran tradition of higher education to the Pacific Northwest. We also recognize the homelands of the Puyallup Tribe on which we stand today here at the Tacoma Dome, as well as the homelands of the Steilacoom and Nisqually Tribes where our campus has stood for all of the last 125 years.
The founders of PLU envisioned a University of the First Rank, and I think they would be very proud of what they see here today.
We at PLU are uniquely committed to our mission, which calls on us to educate students for lives of thoughtful inquiry, service, leadership, and care – for other people, for their communities, and for the earth. This mission is firmly grounded in our Lutheran tradition of higher education. The word “care” is unusual in a university mission statement, and we emphasize it unusually strongly by saying: care for other people, care for their communities and care for the earth. This triple repetition aligns perfectly with our principles of Diversity, Justice and Sustainability, which we strive to consider not as three separate issues, but as one interrelated cause demanding critical thought and action.
These guiding values help our students, alumni, faculty and professional staff members to act as globally conscious citizens and creative leaders.
So as we celebrate the graduation of this, the largest class in PLU’s history, let us also celebrate the unique bond we have shared with Norway for 125 years. We honor our place and our heritage, our first inhabitants, our Norwegian founders and our globally engaged present, as well as Lutes from across the nation and around the world who have left their mark on PLU, as you – the Graduates of 2015 – have done as well. Thank you for learning with us, for challenging us to think in new and different ways, and for your commitment to making the world a better place for all.
Outstanding accomplishments from the Class of 2015
A few of the outstanding accomplishments of this year’s graduates:
- The PLU School of Nursing was ranked among the best 100 graduate schools in the nation, and since its inception in 1991, nearly every graduate of the MSN program has passed his or her certification exam on the first try.
- The Women’s Center turned 25 years old this year. Since its founding, PLU’s Women’s Center has empowered women and men to become advocates for gender equity and social justice, and in the process they are changing perceptions and lives.
- PLU is 9th in the nation for Education graduates who go on to the more rigorous standards to become nationally board certified teachers.
- The awards for MediaLab’s original documentary, titled Waste Not: Breaking Down the Food Equation, keep rolling in, including earning the Rising Star Award in the Canada International Film Festival.
- PLU was ranked sixth in the nationwide “Recyclemania” competition, and the Princeton Review named PLU one of the most environmentally responsible universities in the nation.
- PLU is ranked fourth in the nation for producing Fulbright Scholars, and we’ve had 100 Fulbrights since 1975.
- This has been a great year for intercollegiate competition of all kinds! PLU’s Speech and Debate Team earned a coveted debate sweepstakes award this year—its first since 2005. Our volleyball, swimming and baseball teams won their respective Northwest Conference Championships. The baseball team also qualified to play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2007. And our soccer programs will travel to England this summer, the first international experience for an athletic program since the early 1990s.
- And finally, several graduates of 2015 have taken bold action to address issues of lasting national importance including Black Lives Matter, the It’s on Us Campaign to end sexual assault, and immigration reform.