This graduation weekend was exceptional for many reasons. For the first time in 137 years, the traditional UT Commencement Ceremony on the Main Mall was cancelled due to severe weather. Not unexpectedly, this did not stop our new graduates, their family and friends from finding ways to reflect and celebrate. The class of 2015 can be proud of all their accomplishments including the resilience, resourcefulness, and Hook Em Horns spirit demonstrated during the weather impacted weekend. Here are some highlights.
Crossing Bridges to Build a Better World
In lieu of the traditional ceremony, a small group of guests gathered inside the Tower to hear remarks from President Bill Powers and UT System Chancellor William McRaven. Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation and a Texas Ex, followed as the 2015 Commencement Keynote Speaker. He shared his journey from humble beginnings in a segregated Louisiana town to earning three degrees from UT and going on to lead the second largest philanthropic organization in the United States. His remarks were inspiring as he reminded new graduates: Tonight, as you cross the figurative bridge that is your commencement day . . . think about how you can build a bridge to a better world. The event was webcast and I encourage you to listen to his talk if you havent done so already. His personal motto’s Pressure is a Privilege and You Rest, You Rust. are thought-provoking and motivating. I especially like this message: So, every time you feel pressure, embrace the privilege. Every time you feel tempted to rest on your laurels, make that day matter.
As the culmination of the academic year, the University’s spring commencement carried on despite the thunderstorms, flooding and tornado warnings that cancelled the celebration on the main mall. Convocations at dozens of individual colleges and schools across campus proceeded over the weekend with support and assistance from IT staff.
This year in particular, Cole McClellan, his team, and other ITS staff members did a masterful job of meeting the needs of the campus community amidst shifting schedules, changing venues and severe weather conditions. Much of the work they did was completed behind the scene and in the rain. As Cole said: By the time everyone was finished for the evening about the only thing dry was our equipment!
In the end, audio-visual services were provided in five venues for 12 events, including live streaming video for eight events. The team was also ready and set up in 10 cancelled venues. Networking and Security staff installed additional wireless access for the event, more security cameras and manned the Emergency Operations Center. ITS staff also monitored the streaming webcast of Darren Walkers speech, which was viewed live by hundreds of people.
Kudos seem inadequate for the resourceful, efficient, and capable manner in which our team responded to a rapidly changing situation. Special thanks and appreciation to everyone in ITS who helped ensure that commencement went as smoothly and safely as possible: Harold Nall, Brian Kufahl, Jeff Gonzales, Ben Pollack, Andre Lockett, Daniel Cantu, David Robertson, Fred Gottschalk , AJ Martinez, Jeff Cannon, Dave Begier , Dave Krolczyk, Jeff King, George Geranios, Jim Chapman, Schuyler Hupp, Jim Berry, Patrick Couture and Andrew Olivet.
Spring Commencement is the day we celebrate our core mission educating future generations and equipping them with knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm to change our world. Thanks to everyone for ensuring a safe and successful commencement ceremony despite the stormy weather.
- Spring Commencement 2015 Recap
- Darren Walker, President, Ford Foundation, Commencement 2015 Keynote Speaker