‘You are built for this’
I spent three days congratulating our December graduates as they took celebratory walks across a small commencement stage set-up in Steinhauer fieldhouse. Much as I love our crowded commencement ceremonies in Lockridge Arena, this was a more personal experience. Rather than a rushed 4-second stage crossing during a 90-minute ceremony, graduates and their families had the opportunity to savor the moment, pose for pictures and be congratulated (with elbow bumps and socially distanced cheers) on their great accomplishment.
While this year’s event was constrained by pandemic- related public health guidelines, our graduates’ pride and excitement were not. Trustee Jesus Salazar ’01, MS ’02 assured graduates in his recorded remarks, “You are built for this.” He reminded them that they have the tools and experiences necessary to persevere and push ahead, even in a pandemic. Board Chair Tom Jorden ’80, MS ’87 shared a memorable discussion he once had with another CEO who confidently said you could send Orediggers anywhere, and under any conditions, they would get the job done. The strong work ethic, creativity, perseverance and great teamwork that have always been signature traits of Mines’ graduates are strong in this graduating class.
And they’re strong in the Mines community, too. Despite all of 2020’s challenges, we’ve seen faculty, staff and students, alumni, parents and friends band together and press ahead. In the face of ever-changing conditions, our community rallied around an Oredigger Promise and took good, daily care of ourselves and one another.
With our campus open, and while wearing masks sewn by many of you, we unveiled two new residence halls, began preparation for our new Innovation Complex and opened the McNeil Center and its state-of-the-art classrooms for design and project-based courses. We earned accreditation to offer online degree programs. Mines’ student athletes hoisted our fifth straight RMAC All-Sports Competition Cup. We even saw record rates of giving to support students and fund Mines’ future and a record level of external funding for our faculty’s research.
While 2020 brought challenges and losses that we never want to experience again, it has reinforced how special Mines is. I hope we remember all those climbs this community completed together.
Wishing you a bright, healthy, beautiful and even better 2021. Go Orediggers!
Paul C. Johnson
President and Professor