Commencement 2006

Reflections from the Faculty
Norma Criley
Assistant Professor of Biology
The 2006 Student Senate Professor of the Year

I am honored to stand here before you as Student Senate Professor of the Year.  Amazing!  Considering the fact that I teach a course that many of you think should be renamed and listed in the catalog as Inhuman Anatomy and Physiology

Speaking as a representative of the faculty, I think I can safely say for all; “it is sad to realize that you’re leaving, but we know you must.  We’ve watched you mature over the years that you’ve been here.  Therefore, we know that you are going out as capable individuals ready to pursue the professions that you’ve chosen.  Parents! You should be proud of them.  We hope that you will each find your special niche and will thrive and do wonderful things and have good lives.  

You are, however, stepping out into a world fraught with many problems.  Problems that affect, not just us in the United States, but all inhabitants on this planet, human and non-human. Problems such as: global warming  (Scientific evidence does support its existence.),  global dimming due to atmospheric pollutants that reduce the amount of sunshine available for growing plants, over- population, dwindling water supplies, energy needs, AIDS, potential for a pandemic.  Experts tell us, if it is not avian flu, it will be some other infectious organism.  The list could go on.  We need to act, not out of panic and fear, but with rational knowledge.

Please, as you seek your personal goals spend some of your tremendous talents working to turn things around.  You all have something to contribute.  Some of you have the talent to seek scientific solutions; others to educate; yet others to bring about business practices that will be kinder to the environment.  All of you, make sure you are well informed so that you can make intelligent choices when you exercise your right to vote.  These issues can not be ignored the way that our generations have been ignoring them; ignoring them, in part, because we have not taken them seriously.  You must act, or it will be too late to provide your children with the life that you would like for them.  Your generation does not have the luxury of complacency.  The earth is changing.  Our environment, our world, as we know it is in trouble.  You cannot afford to be apathetic.

By now you are probably wondering why I am casting such gloom in the midst of a celebratory occasion.  I do it, because the subject is of utmost importance, but more so, I do it because I have tremendous faith in your abilities to make a difference. Many of you have demonstrated these abilities already.  You have made a difference on campus.  Those of you that have not been involved, get involved!  Enjoy your life beyond the bubble but take care of it.  

Now, a last word for those of you who have been students in my class:  “Graduation!”  Isn’t that a lovely word?  It just rolls off the tongue.  It could be one of my favorite words except that it means that you’re leaving us.  Keep in touch!  Let us know how you’re doing. Students are fun, but, so are alumni.