Two years ago, when families across our country first felt the harsh blows of this current recession, we at Colorado State University realized we had a devastating problem. A number of students who were only a few credits away from graduation were dropping out, unable to afford to finish.
In response, thousands of people â€” some who could donate only a few dollars â€” rallied to create the Student Support Grant. As a result, 77 students who otherwise would not have graduated have now earned their diplomas, and there will be many more who graduate this fall and in upcoming years with the support and assistance this fund has provided.
Graduation from a university is an extraordinary achievement, a result of hard work, determination and intellectual rigor. It is also the product of a partnership among students and many others, some of whom they will never meet: faculty and staff, family members, state taxpayers who have built this institution and continue to subsidize the education of our students, private donors, like those who contributed to the Student Support Grant, and many others over the course of generations. It is this shared vision and commitment that makes a CSU education possible for the students who have the knowledge, commitment and perseverance to earn it.
Quite simply, none of us succeed entirely on our own; we all owe some kind of debt to those who believed in us, invested in us and challenged us along the way.
And so, graduates, please know that weâ€™re tremendously proud of you and youâ€™ve earned a chance to celebrate. But also consider this fair warning: Once youâ€™ve left CSU with your diploma in hand and joined the ranks of our alumni, weâ€™re going to start asking you for help. We donâ€™t do this to be annoying. We genuinely need your help to open doors, share your experiences and make education possible for the students who will come after you.
Only with the leadership and involvement of our alumni has CSU been able to make real progress over the years. Gifts from alumni allow us to seek out and hire top faculty from around the country. They enable us to offer more and better scholarships to talented students. They make it possible for us to bring in world leaders as guest lecturers, and to complete projects like our University Center for the Arts and the addition to Rockwell Hall that dramatically improve the learning environment in key programs.
Our alumni are CSUâ€™s most passionate supporters and toughest critics. They know what they personally valued in their CSU experience, and they know what needs to be changed and improved. Many of our alumni come back regularly to campus as guest speakers or visiting scholars; they hire our students as interns or employees; and they cheer for the Rams, whether in the stands at Hughes Stadium or halfway around the world.
The term â€œcommencementâ€ signifies that the end of this phase of your education is not truly an end, but a beginning â€“â€“ a foundation upon which youâ€™ll build a life and career. It is also the beginning of your time as a CSU alums, and thatâ€™s a status that I hope you embrace with the full pride and respect it deserves. We need the energy, spirit and knowledge that only our alumni can offer. None of us succeeds alone.
Your university needs you, and we hope youâ€™ll stay connected and involved from the day of your commencement onward.
Your graduation is, indeed, a beginning. Make the most of it, and take on your future with a sense of confidence and optimism. We at CSU are proud of you, and we celebrate this achievement with you.
Congratulations again to the Class of Fall 2010!
Dr. Tony Frank