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College of Arts and Sciences


Dean's Blog

Graduation 2015

May 15, 2014

By: Mary Anne Fitzpatrick

On Saturday May 10th, President Harris Pastides had the opportunity to shake hands with over 1100 Arts and Sciences degree recipients at the Colonial Center.  It was truly a full house with every seat occupied by proud family members and friends of the graduates. As the students crossed the stage to receive their diplomas, the audience heard about the various awards and honors garnered by our talented graduates.

Some students received a new honors distinction, graduating with Leadership Distinction. Advancing leadership is an important component of our role as the Flagship University of South Carolina.  Since the founding of this college (and the university) our charge has been to educate the future leaders of South Carolina, the nation, and the world. The college has

taken the initiative and developed an impressive program to hone the leadership skills of our students.

Students graduating with Leadership Distinction demonstrate extensive, purposeful engagement beyond the classroom.  They prove that they understand course concepts in “real world” settings as they apply what they have learned to make decisions and solve problems. Students spend over 300 hours developing their knowledge, skills and abilities along one of the four major four pathways:  

Leadership Distinction requires that students seriously examine the relationship between what they have learned in the classroom and how they have used that knowledge in productive ways.  Through such examination, the program helps students to find their passions and set the direction for where they want to go in life.

We could not have chosen a better commencement speaker to address the first class graduating with leadership distinction than W. James McNerney.  A Bachelor of Arts graduate of Yale University, McNerney is the president and CEO of Boeing, the world's largest manufacturer of commercial jetliners and military aircraft.  In his speech, McNerney highlighted global competition and the impact of that competition on their future lives. 

Within this relentless, globally competitive environment, you will be working harder than the generations that came before you – and it has to be worth it to you as an individual. So aligning your job with your values, your beliefs, your aspirations, while always important, are more crucial than ever.

Indeed, the work we are doing with students in the leadership and pathways program will help them to find out how to align their career goals with those life goals that are the most meaningful for them.  Indeed workplace engagement and wellbeing that is being deeply involved in, and enthusiastic about the work one does, depends upon our assessment that what we do has a personally relevant value, meaning and purpose.

My career as a dean gives me the opportunity to work in public higher education with faculty who are innovative and dedicated to helping our students along their pathway in life.  And graduation is one of the highpoints of my year as I see what students have accomplished under faculty direction. We expect great things from our graduates.  

Read Previous Posts By Dean Fitzpatrick.