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Indiana Chief Justice addresses December graduates


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By Michelle Sokol



Commencement Speaker Randall Shepard said that for some graduating classes, there is a particular event in the national backdrop that makes the graduation more memorable.

In the 1930s, it was graduating in the midst of bread lines from the Great Depression. In 1941, it was graduating after experiencing the terror of the attacks on Pearl Harbor. In the 60s it was graduating in the company of a generation of social activists.

For the Class of 2011, that memorable event is graduating into the Great Recession.

“This particular commencement occurs at a moment in our nation’s history when we seem stuck in the mud,” Shepard said in his address to the graduating class Dec. 17 at Assembly Hall.  

Shepard, currently the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court and the longest-serving chief justice in the state of Indiana, announced his plans to step down from the bench at the end of the year (in March). He is a graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School and earned his Master of Laws in the Judicial Process from the University of Virginia.

While Shepard acknowledged that the graduates would be facing a tough job market and economy, he offered words of advice to the students.

“The value an education has earned from universities like this one in 2011 is more tangible than ever,” he said.

After Shepard addressed the graduates, they were formally inducted into the Indiana University Alumni Association. The organization has more than 560,000 members in all 50 states and more than 150 countries.  

President Michael McRobbie then delivered his charge to the graduating class of 2011.

McRobbie asked the graduates to reflect on the value of the knowledge they have gathered over the past several years at IU. He said that knowledge has both economic and practical value that will help the graduates succeed in many ways.

He also asked the graduates to look back on their time at IU outside of their learning career. He reminded them of the election of our nation’s first black president, of the tsunamis and earthquakes that shook the world and of the Arab Spring.

“You may also recall last week’s win over Kentucky on this very court,” he said as the graduates erupted in applause and cheer. “In fact, some of you may still be recovering.”

Then, with the help of Provost Karen Hanson and the deans of each participating school, McRobbie began the conferral of degrees.

As the Indiana University Commencement Ensemble concluded the commencement by playing the “Alma Mater,” graduates began to leave Assembly Hall with chants of “Hoo-Hoo-Hoosiers!”


The Faces of 2011 December Graduates


Alexander Carter

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business (Finance)

Plans for the future: Carter starts a new job next month in Rhode Island; he will be working for the treasury of Textron.

“The speaker was right about graduating into the economy, he was good. Graduating is bittersweet. I’ve been here for 3.5 years and I’m glad to be done with the work, but I’m going to miss everyone.”

Scott McLelland

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Business (Supply Chain Management)

Plans for the future: McLelland will be working for Crane Naval Base starting next month.

“The speaker had some wise words for us. But now it’s a great time to celebrate, I have month off before I start my new job.”

Allison Cooke

Degree: Master of Science in Human Computer Interaction (Informatics)

Plans for the future: Cooke plans on sticking with her current job as Social Media Specialist for IU Communications.

“The speaker was interesting—he was kind of saying ‘You’re going out in a terrible job market,’ and that’s just not motivating. At least it was short.”

Matthew Potter

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs (Public Affairs)

Plans for the future: Potter will be moving to Chicago to help start a new prototype for Target called CityTarget. In the meantime, he will be searching for another job.

“The speech was kind of a downer, but I liked how he brought it together in the end. I’m so relieved to be done with college, but it went by so fast. Enjoy it while you can.”

Sara Garringer

Degree: Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (Physical Health)

Plans for future: Garringer is still searching for a job—she has sent in many applications and is thinking about moving home and applying for a teaching job.

“It feels so good to be done and I have so much to be thankful for. The speaker offered practical, useful advice on the time period and showed us we do have hope.”

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IU Jacobs School of Music doctoral students watch their peers being recognized at Winter Commencement on Saturday in Assembly Hall. The music students recently received their hoods, the pink sashes hanging from the back of their robes. Michelle Sokol Buy Photos
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New graduates turn their tassels at the conclusion of Winter Commencement on Saturday in Assembly Hall. Almost 2,000 students graduated in this class. Michelle Sokol Buy Photos
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The IU Commencement Ensemble performs at the conclusion of Winter Commencement on Saturday in Assembly Hall. The ensemble is composed of students from the IU Jacob School of Music. Michelle Sokol Buy Photos

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