On Saturday, May 25, The University of Texas at Austin, School of Information graduate candidates and their guests filled the Grand Ballroom at the ATT Conference Center to celebrate a huge milestone. Anticipation filled the room as iSchool students eagerly waited for their names to be called signaling their turn to cross the commencement stage.
The 2019 Convocation Ceremony started at 4:00 p.m. with the music of the bagpiper and the procession of graduates and faculty. Graduate Advisor, Associate Dean, and Associate Professor Philip Doty welcomed the audience and introduced Dean Eric Meyer, who delivered the introductory remarks.
In his speech, Meyer acknowledged the significance of the ceremony and expressed his gratitude for the graduates’ contributions to the excellence of the iSchool. He spoke about the gift of diversity that the students brought with them –through their background, orientation, perspectives, and experiences. He also prided the iSchool on “seeking out people who enhance the School not despite their differences, but because of them.”
Honoring the iSchool students and their achievements, Meyer stated that their impact on the world would continue beyond graduation. “The future is yet to be written, and you will contribute to the writing,” he said.
In addition to the Dean, iSchool Advisory Council Member, Serial Entrepreneur, and Commencement Speaker Gary Hoover praised the students for their accomplishment and offered timely advice for moving forward.
He encouraged the new graduates to be mindful about “technological enthusiasm” and to always consider the impact of technology on human life. “The highest calling in life is to serve others,” he said, “and to serve through understanding and empathy.”
Similar to Dean Meyer’s appreciation for diversity, Hoover encouraged the graduates to embrace diversity around them. In addition, he advised them to celebrate their eccentricities and be willing to stand alone.
On the brink of leaving iSchool to pursue their future paths, Hoover reminded the graduates that their education journey had just begun and he hoped that they would adopt a growth mindset so that they were always, “changing, growing, and evolving.” “The best people are learning something new every day,” he said.
He ended his speech by commenting on the students’ mission and life work. “The two greatest days of your life are the day that you were born and the day that you find out why. If you can find a mission in life, where your passion and intellect come together, so that when you leave this earth you would have left the world a better place than you found it, that’s worth pursuing.”
Doty acknowledged the MSIS graduates and PhD graduates, while the Director of the Center for Identity, Suzanne Barber, acknowledged the MSIMS graduates. The iSchool awarded one Doctor of Philosophy degree in Information Studies, four degrees for Master of Science in Identity Management and Security (MSIMS), and 124 degrees for Master of Science in Information Studies (MSIS). Summer 2018, fall 2018, and spring 2019 graduates were recognized. In total, 129 students walked across the commencement stage.
May 25, 2019 marked a celebratory day for many. For Dean Meyer, it was his first convocation ceremony as Dean of the Texas iSchool. For the graduates, it represented a culmination of their dedication, diligence, and perseverance. They were not only graduating from one of the top 5 School of Information programs nationally, but as Meyer noted, they had earned a degree “from a top program in one of the world’s great universities.”
Referring to the graduates as “masters of information,” Meyer expressed his confidence in the soon-to-be Texas iSchool alumni. “You will change the ways we interact with information and technology, you will use information to make the world a better and fairer place, and you will change the ways we protect and preserve our collective memory,” he said. “At the School of Information, we are changing the future by engaging the present and preserving the past –and you are all part of this future.”