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Monday, May 7, 2018

As Chancellor of IU Southeast, I would like to offer my heartfelt congratulations to each of you, the members of Indiana University Southeast's Class of 2018.

Today is your day. You have accomplished what you set out to do - -you have earned your Indiana University degree. Today, we celebrate you!

Today marks the 50th commencement for IU Southeast. In 1969, the Jeffersonville Extension Center of Indiana University became IU Southeast and awarded its first degrees in nursing, education and mechanical drafting design technology. There were 42 graduates that year. Since that first commencement nearly 35,000 graduates have walked across this stage. My, how we've grown! Will any IU and/or IU Southeast alumni in attendance here today please rise to be acknowledged?

Since this is our 50th commencement in our campuses history, I'd like to publically acknowledge and thank Indiana University President Michael McRobbie for his strong support of this campus and the southern Indiana region. In no small part is the growth we've experienced due to the efforts of President McRobbie and the Trustees of Indiana University. Because of IU's presence in the region, we've contributed to research and workforce development, providing thousands of highly skilled professionals in a myriad of occupations helping the Kentuckiana region grow and thrive.

I also wish to acknowledge and congratulate Mr. Bob Lanum on his conferment of Doctor of Humane Letters. Mr. Lanum has long been a friend to the university and this region. We are very proud of you Mr. Lanum.

Also among us is our fourth student Fulbright Scholar, Van Knopf (KAN-NAHPFF). Mr. Knopf, of Fisherville, Kentucky, graduates tonight with his second bachelor's degree—in German—to accompany his bachelor's degree in history conferred last year and will work with a teacher of English in a school in Germany. Mr. Knopf began taking classes at IU Southeast in 2007, while still in high school, as a home-schooled student. He then served our country in military service with the Army National Guard and obtained an associate's degree from Jefferson Community and Technical College before re-enrolling at IU Southeast in 2014. Mr. Knopf will be leaving for Germany this September and return next June. Congratulations Van Knopf on your high achievements. You make us proud!

While we are gathered here for a common celebration, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that many of you wouldn't be here without the support of your parents, spouses, children, siblings and other family members who have been there encouraging and advocating for you these past few years. I encourage you to thank your family tonight for all they have done to help you reach this important milestone. For you see, you are now part of an elite group. Less than 8 percent of the world's population has achieved what you have—a college degree.

I also encourage you graduates to be mindful of the professors who inspired you to think innovatively and creatively. Please join me in showing them your gratitude.

Seated before you are students who we know as academic scholars, athletes, researchers, artists, involved community leaders, and so much more. I am struck by the diverse paths each of them has taken to arrive at today's graduation. Some of them worked on their degree while balancing families and full-time jobs. Others lived in our lodges and became leaders on campus through student organizations. Some are the first in their family to graduate from college. Others are second-or-third-generation IU Southeast graduates and members of our Alumni Legacy Society for making this university part of their family tradition.

One graduate, Ryon Keith, started with IU Southeast in 1990. Knowing he would need to take a different pathway to graduation Ryon took one-to-two courses per semester. Taking only one semester off in 28 years, he had perfect attendance for all 56 semesters and he graduates today with his bachelor's in history and minor in political science. Ryon is the ultimate example of persistence and the importance of completion. Congratulations Ryon and to all our students who have persevered to fulfill their promise to themselves and their families.

This graduating class of 2018 is comprised of 943 students, with more than one-third becoming the first in their families to attain an undergraduate degree. I want to take a moment to appreciate that statistic. 35 percent of you are trailblazers in your family, the first to set that example and expectation of obtaining a college degree for generations to come. Can we please give them a round of applause?

Sixty-six percent of this year's graduates are Indiana state residents, while 33 percent of our graduates this evening have taken advantage of our reciprocity agreement with Kentucky.

IU Southeast graduates this evening represent 33 Indiana counties, 11 U.S. States, and 15 countries of origin. Our oldest graduate, Johnnie Carl Lizenby (LIZ-IN-BEE) is 66, and he persisted on and off for over 40 years to achieve his degree. Our youngest, Zachary Lane Huber and Kendra Nicole Baumgarten are both 20. There are also two sets of twins in the class of 2018.

More than 52 percent of today's graduates are younger than 25, while more than 24 percent are aged 30 or over. The most popular degree to be granted this evening is the Bachelor of Arts, and the most popular major is the Bachelor of Science in Business. We also award our first-ever Bachelor of Science in Journalism and Media to four graduates of our newest degree program.

Tonight we award 3 associate degrees, 854 bachelor's degrees, and 104 master's degrees, for a total of 961 degrees. Thirty-one students in this distinguished group are walking across the stage with perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

As Chancellor of IU Southeast, let me conclude by saying how proud I am of each and every one of you. On behalf of our remarkable faculty and staff, we congratulate you on your accomplishments.

It is the dream of every educator – and every parent – for the next generation to be better... and better off. You, the members of the Class of 2018, are on the cusp of actualizing IU Southeast's vision to shape the future of our community. You are this region's next leaders, next innovators and next creative minds. You are our dreamers. You are our doers. You are our future.

In turn, I hope that you are honored and proud to receive your IU degree. I hope you have enjoyed your time at this exceptional institution of higher learning, and I hope you share your experiences with others who could benefit from it.

I now invite you to join more than 27,000 IU Southeast alumni around the world in becoming official ambassadors for future groups of graduating classes. Stay involved with IU Southeast. Participate in alumni activities. Use the lessons you learned here to help this university best serve our students and our community.

President McRobbie, Trustees and distinguished guests, I am honored to present the IU Southeast Class of 2018 to you today. I offer wholehearted congratulations to each of them on their significant achievements.

Ray Wallace
IU Southeast Chancellor

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