Graduation. Commencement. Conferment of Degrees. No matter the name, the time of year, the country, language or composition of the class, there is a timeless and recognizable ritual that all academic institutions conduct to recognize the completion of stages of learning for students. Families gather, many photos snap, deans scurry and presidents or chancellors try to look sufficiently grave and detached from the frenzy so as to fulfill their real duty, which is to convey the gravitas, the solemnity of the moment that caps long years of hard learning. Of course, we love the celebration, too, so even the most bedecked member of the hierarchy can be found giving a high-five or at least wide smile to this graduate or that parent.
Today I had the rare privilege of sharing the moment of graduation with another campus community, albeit one quite far from Trinity and in a land whose name connotes centuries of grand tradition. Liverpool Hope University and Trinity share roots among the Sisters of Notre Dame colleges of the 19th Century. Because of our shared heritage, Liverpool Hope and Trinity have been discussing ways in which we can collaborate on programs to enrich the lives of our students who share so much in common.
Today I had the equally rare privilege of giving the graduation address and receiving an honorary degree. I am so grateful to all of my new friends at Liverpool Hope University! Thank you! We had a terrific celebration.
Here are some of my new friends:
Each individual in the photo has a remarkable story that I will share in more detail in a future blog.
I am especially grateful to Pro Vice Chancellor Bishop Ian Stuart who invited me, pursued our academic partnership after his visit to Trinity last summer, read a gorgeous citation and was my intrepid host for my visit. I will have more on the great Bishop Stuart and our partnership in another blog when I get back to the USA. (I’m at the airport in Manchester, England as I write, hoping that the snowstorm on the east coast will not delay my flight too much.)
I was also so grateful to see so many Sisters of Notre Dame. It was a special treat for me to catch up with Sr. Camilla Burns, a Trinity alumna and former member of our board who was a remarkable leader for the SNDs worldwide when she served as general moderator a few years ago. Sister Camilla is on the right in the photo below, along with an SND from the Congo Province who received her master’s degree today, Sister Josephine Ibanda Mfuka, and another sister.
Again, so many thanks and congratulations to all at Liverpool Hope University!!