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UW-Stout News Story

Chancellor urges graduates to ‘reinstate the value of civility’

December 19, 2011

University of Wisconsin-Stout graduates were challenged by Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen Saturday “to do all in your power to reinstate the value of civility” as they leave campus and enter the world of work.

“As scientists and engineers, teachers and counselors, and packagers and designers — conduct yourselves in the highest traditions of the university from which you are about to graduate and to the professions you are about to enter,” Sorensen said during two commencement ceremonies at the Johnson Fieldhouse. “Value everyone you meet and support their rights, their dignity and their dreams of success just as you would your own.”

Sorensen, a historian, briefly recounted “the concept of civic virtue” through the ages. “Into the very foundations of our American democracy, the pursuit of civility has been a centralizing theme,” he said. “And it has often been an elusive dream.”

Sorensen said that today’s graduates were young when the United States was attacked Sept. 11, 2001, “and yet that event shapes the challenges you face today.

“You enter an economy struggling to recover a downturn brought about by greed and self-centered mismanagement. We find ourselves confronted by new daily accounts of corporate malfeasance, hateful slurs directed at our fellow citizens because of their race or sexual orientation, threats to our environmental future, celebrity mug shots and politicians from every party treating one another with hostility and disdain.

“But it does not have to be this way — you can make a difference. So as John Kennedy said on a cold January day in 1960, I say to you: ‘Let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof.’ ”

For the first time, winter commencement was divided into two ceremonies because of UW-Stout’s continued growth and a resulting increase in the number of graduates.

A total of 669 students received degrees, including 119 graduate degrees. Sorensen conferred the degrees and presented the diplomas. Provost Julie Furst-Bowe presided over the ceremonies. Mark Parsons, vice chancellor for University Advancement and Marketing, welcomed the graduates into the Stout Alumni Association.

Music was provided by the university band, directed by Aaron Durst. Choral selections were performed by the Stout Symphonic Singers, directed by Patrick Liebergen. Receptions followed in the Sports and Fitness Center.

Classes at UW-Stout ended Thursday, Dec. 15. Evaluation week continues through Thursday, Dec. 22. The Winterm session runs from Jan. 3-21. Second-semester classes start Monday, Jan. 23.

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