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This blog site will feature essays, columns and musings that deal with the intersection of Christianity and journalism and the American Songbook.

Inaugeral Extended Degree Program Commencement (speech: Central Washington University)

Central Washington University (Lynnwood, WA)
June 16, 1985

Welcome to an historic first in the life of Central Washington University – the first off campus commencement exercise exclusively for our extension scholars. Your time has finally come. But you know, it was a sacrifice for me to come over from Ellensburg to attend this commencement exercise today. Frankly, I was looking forward to a day off but I had to drive a couple of hours to get here, and my wife, Kathy, and I had to make special arrangements with our children to be sure their needs were taken care of. Furthermore, the family missed church service and a church sponsored Father’s Day Picnic. And all this sacrifice, for what? An hour’s worth of pomp and circumstance sponsored by Central Washington University.

Sound vaguely familiar? Well, I believe you are uniquely qualified to say, “Yes.” For all of you have paid the price of sacrifice to be here today. And I’m not referring to the inherent sacrifice of scholarly pursuit. I’m referring to your time and energy and scheduling and family and financial commitments you’ve made over the last several years to be here this afternoon. I’m talking about the sacrifices your family and your professional career made to get you to this occasion.

Your achievement is remarkable because many of you started with nothing but a high school diploma and a great inner drive, and you’ve earned your Bachelor’s Degree on the weekends night and after work and around family commitments and with special and sacrificial financial allocations. Those who have earned graduate degrees while holding down similar major responsibilities know the amount of commitment it takes to keep working for their degree, which can be accomplished in a relatively short period of time. But only those who have faced two, three, even four years of extension work, can really know what academic yearning and a corresponding commitment is all about. In an age of self-help hype, you people are the super-stars.

Perhaps, during those interminable rainy nights away from the family either in class or on the highway or in the books, you felt like one of Central Washington University’s academic stepchildren because you were away from the main campus. Well, this graduation ceremony, and the fact that the top administrators from Central, including Trustees, are here to honor you, proclaims to all that you are as integral a part of the institution as the resident graduates. To add weight to this fact, Friday night we Trustees had the privilege to bestow our highest faculty honors at the formal Honors Convocation. And the recipient for the award of the Distinguished Professor in Public Service this year was Allen Vautier, an outstanding scholar/teacher here at Central in Lynnwood. The fact of the matter is, for many of us, you people honor us by demonstrating just how important a Central education is for you because you have truly paid the price to receive it.

Yes, we came from Ellensburg and endured a slight sacrifice to honor you who have chosen to greatly sacrifice for years to earn a degree from Central as a place-bound student. You didn’t demand that we come; your performance commanded that we come and pay our respect to you.
Congratulations, graduates. For many of us you

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