Commencement 2020: Videos & transcript

‘It is your time to make a difference,’ said Interim President Joshua Wynne, addressing graduates in UND’s Virtual Commencement Ceremony

Editor’s note: On Saturday, UND honored more than 2,000 graduates in three separate virtual commencement ceremonies.  The ceremonies included general commencement for bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees; Law School commencement; and School of Medicine and Health Sciences commencement.

Each ceremony included video remarks from interim President Joshua Wynne and other administrators, as well as a slide of each student with their name, degree, major, a recording of their name and a submitted photo. 

The ceremonies remain available on UND’s YouTube page and can be watched above and below. Also below is a transcript of the remarks that UND Interim President Joshua Wynne delivered at the General Commencement ceremony.

“I strongly believe this year’s graduating class will be remembered for how it responded to the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 because our University – your University – produces exceptional leaders in so many different fields,” President Wynne told the gradutes.

“It is your time to display the resilience, resourcefulness and character that has instilled greatness on other generations before you. It is your time to make a difference.”

 

 

 

The following is a transcript of President Wynne’s address during the General Commencement ceremony:

Joshua Wynne

In the commencement address I gave in December last year, I spoke to our University of North Dakota graduates about how future events might affect their lives and why their education equipped them to face the challenges ahead. Little did I know – a mere three months later – the COVID-19 pandemic would create a worldwide healthcare crisis and a level of uncertainty about the future that nobody could have predicted.

This is not what I or any of you expected as we went into 2020.

Commencement should be about celebrating and recognizing your achievements and accomplishments. You’ve earned it. You deserve it.

Springtime at UND is normally about experiencing joyous times with family members and the friends you’ve made here. Unfortunately, the coronavirus has not only forced the University to cancel commencement, but has potentially put your plans, your dreams and your future on hold.

In last semester’s commencement address, I told our graduates that their UND degrees gave them an advantage – as long as they viewed it as an educational foundation on which to build. This is as true today as it was last December. It’s been true for past UND graduates, and it will be true for future graduates. But right now, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the turmoil created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many of you probably have grandparents or great grandparents who belonged to what’s now called America’s Greatest Generation. They lived through the Dust Bowl years and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Then, as young men and women, they were confronted by World War II in the 1940s. They not only created the Arsenal of Democracy that turned the tide of the war, but they also went across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans to fight against and defeat tyranny. They came back and helped turn the United States into an economic superpower and leader of the free world.

Members of the Greatest Generation weren’t born knowing the hand they’d been dealt or the struggles they would encounter. They didn’t know that, one day, their generation would be heralded for rising to the challenge of overcoming tremendous adversity. They did what they had to do, displaying a level of resilience, resourcefulness and character that’s come to define their generation.

There’s an old saying that time heals all wounds. Perhaps many of you in UND’s Class of 2020 are feeling a sense of anguish at having been wounded by events beyond your control because of the COVID-19 outbreak. There’s a sense of loss, a sense of uncertainty. Right now, we don’t know the full consequences of this pandemic, nor do we know exactly when it will end.

Putting on my physician’s cap, I am confident that a time will soon come when we have a good understanding of the disease and how it spreads, enabling biomedical researchers and the medical community to pursue and develop effective treatments. Time will help us gain the perspective needed to prevent and deal with future pandemics.

But time alone won’t heal the wounds of derailed plans, severe economic disruption, financial hardship and the emotional scars that so often accompany prolonged periods of stressful living. What matters most is how we make use of the time after the coronavirus pandemic is finally over.

As graduates of the University of North Dakota Class of 2020, you are unique. You will be the ones to determine how your generation is defined by these recent events. You will have the opportunity to gain the insight needed to benefit from the lessons learned. You will discover that your ability to cope with the unanticipated challenges and the unexpected roadblocks life throws your way is far greater than you ever imagined. Your education, your creativity and your ingenuity will lead to solutions not yet envisioned.

I strongly believe this year’s graduating class will be remembered for how it responded to the coronavirus outbreak of 2020 because our University – your University – produces exceptional leaders in so many different fields. It is your time to display the resilience, resourcefulness and character that has instilled greatness on other generations before you. It is your time to make a difference.

Thank you for your patience and the strength you’ve shown as we’ve tackled this unprecedented challenge together.

Interim President Joshua Wynne