Campus & Community

Rain doesn’t dampen spirits at summer Commencement

Despite the gloomy skies, smiles beamed brightly from the faces of nearly 3,000 friends and family of University of Denver graduates gathered at Hamilton Gymnasium Aug. 15 for summer Commencement.

“This is a great day of celebration for you,” said Chancellor Robert Coombe. “We are very, very proud of you.”

There were 670 students eligible for summer commencement this year, with 172 receiving undergraduate degrees and 498 receiving graduate degrees, including 65 doctoral and six law degrees. About two thirds of those eligible participated in the ceremonies, which were moved from outdoors at Carnegie Green to Hamilton Gymnasium because of heavy rain forecast for Denver.

True to predictions, the rain poured slowly and steadily as guests arrived for the ceremony Friday morning. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the graduates or their guests. They clapped as speakers congratulated the graduates and exhorted them to make the most of their education, and cheered later as each graduate’s name was read aloud and they received their diplomas and appropriate vestments.

Psychology Professor George Potts — former interim dean of arts, humanities and social sciences — challenged each graduate to make a difference in the world. Reflecting the darkness of the skies, Potts painted a grim picture of the world the graduates were about to engage — a picture of a seemingly endless war, an economy and an environment in dire straights and a damaged national reputation. But perhaps mirroring the joyous faces of the proud parents assembled in the gymnasium, Potts expressed confidence in graduates’ abilities to confront and overcome the challenges they face.

“Each challenge represents an opportunity and a chance for you to make your mark,” he said. “You are up to this challenge.”

He encouraged graduates to have the confidence to be bold in facing those challenges; to surround themselves with competent people who do not necessarily agree with them; to look beyond their self interest to bring positive change in the world; and to face the many ethical challenges they will encounter in their personal and professional lives.

“It takes confidence to do what you know is right,” Potts said, “rather than what’s easy.”

Read Potts’ Commencement address in its entirety or watch the video.

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