The journey and climb ahead
Commencement is a celebration of accomplishment and an opportunity to reflect on one’s journey through Mines. The Class of 2019 will always be special to me because I began my own Mines journey with them.
In August 2015, we climbed Mount Zion and placed our 10-pound rocks on the M. Together we discovered E-Days and other unique Mines traditions and learned what people mean when they talk about the predictably unpredictable weather in Colorado (which was especially true in the week leading up to May’s commencement). We became part of and learned much about the Mines community—the hard work, dedication and multi-faceted talent of our students, the passion and enthusiasm of our professors and staff, the everlasting pride of our alumni and the common values and (sometimes quirky) traits that bind us all together.
Through the Class of 2019’s journey, I saw the transformative power of Mines and began to understand the pride of our alumni and their propensity for professional and personal accomplishment. At many universities, students are often passive participants in their education and effect little change on their university as they pass through it. At Mines, the opposite is true.
Even with the time their challenging courses demand, our students are engaged and making their mark on Mines. For example, the Class of 2019 was key to establishing a new tradition, Oredigger Camp, where upper-class students welcome new students to the Mines community and introduce them to traditions, resources and what it’s like to be an Oredigger. They also fueled the growth of innovation and entrepreneurship at Mines through the Blaster Design Factory and the Mines Maker Society. A group of them even brought back the Prospector yearbook after about a 10-year hiatus.
Through the Class of 2019, I was also able to see a much greater potential for Mines going forward. Those aspirations are documented in our MINES@150 strategic plan—we intend to thrive, to separate ourselves from the competition, to tackle grand challenges and be the preferred partner for industry, government and others who rely on our graduates and innovations. Mines will be known as the premier hands-on science and engineering university in this country.
We have reasons to be optimistic. We are strategically sized to be special. Our location in Golden and Colorado is advantageous. We have a well-established reputation. And we have our alumni, who are largely an untapped resource but are starting to lead key initiatives for Mines. At a time when some are questioning the value of a four-year college experience, our graduates stand as proof of what a motivated university and its ambitious students and alumni can do together.
You can see that in the stories in this issue of Mines Magazine. You will also find stories on two alumni who have been pillars of the Mines community: Marv Kay ’63, who has been such an integral part of Mines that we just named the main path through campus after him, and Ramona Graves PhD ’82, whose multi-decade impact on Mines and the petroleum industry is being recognized at her retirement through a new endowed chair established in her name by former students and friends.
I will remember the Class of 2019’s journey and the mark they made at Mines. We owe it to them and every class that preceded and will follow them to answer their ambition with our own.
Here’s to the journey and climb ahead. Go Orediggers!
Paul C. Johnson, PhD
President and Professor