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Thu, May 21, 2015

Congratulations class of 2015 (and 1965)!

2015 Spring Graduates Last weekend, I had the honor of congratulating our newest alumni as they completed a significant chapter in their lives. We had 1,217 candidates for graduation. These candidates joined the 820 students who graduated in December, making the classes from the 2014-2015 academic year among the largest and most impressive we’ve seen. You can view videos of the  ceremonies, or check out a gallery of photos.

Yesterday, I had the honor of commending another cohort — our 1965 graduates. These alumni were on campus for the Golden Alumni Reunion — some for the first time since the Beatles topped the charts. Snapshots of the reunion can be reviewed here.

Golden alumni talking with the ChancellorAlthough 50 years have passed between their classes, some things about an education from this university remain the same across the decades. We continue to attract some of the best and brightest students; we continue to offer excellent value; and Missouri S&T continues to be a launchpad from which our students are able to navigate truly one-of-a-kind careers.

In this issue of my newsletter, I’ll focus on the return on investment we offer for one of the key customer groups identified in our strategic plan, undergraduate students.

Former U.S. Secretary of State shares leadership lessons

One way our students receive an excellent ROI at Missouri S&T is through extraordinary access to renowned expertise. For several decades, we’ve been able to do just that through the Remmers Special Artist/Lecturer Series.

The series began in 1979 when former President Gerald Ford spoke on campus. This year, the tradition continued as we welcomed Dr. Condoleezza Rice, the 66th U.S. Secretary of State.

Dr. Rice spoke with Missouri S&T students enrolled in a U.S. diplomatic history class and later addressed thousands of people in a lecture and Q&A at the Gale Bullman Building.

As the first female chancellor of Missouri S&T, I asked her what advice she has for women who find themselves as “pioneers” in their careers. This is what she shared:

“You don’t exactly set out to be first. You actually find yourself pursuing your passions, and then pursuing the opportunities that become available to you. … But you do have to embrace" being a pioneer, she said.

That can be challenging, however, because pioneers often face intense scrutiny. “The first gets a lot more attention than the second,” Rice said.

“I just wanted to be good at what I was doing, and I am grateful for the opportunities that I’ve had.”

I know as chancellor, I’m grateful for the opportunity to advance the mission and goals of such a dynamic, distinguished institution.

Commencement speaker encourages mentorship

Speaking of renowned expertise, our May commencement speaker was Dr. Vince Bertam, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way, the celebrated nonprofit organization that develops K-12 curricula in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

I consider Dr. Bertram a visionary in STEM education, a colleague and a friend.

In his address, Dr. Bertram first assured our students that their education at Missouri S&T has provided them with “essential knowledge and skills to have successful careers.”

Indeed, not only do our newest alumni secure jobs, but the average starting salary for our undergraduates is now $61,400. Outcomes like these have led groups like the Brookings Institution to recognize the value we provide as among the best in the country.

However, Bertram reminded graduates that their education has prepared them for so much more.

“I believe the most meaningful contributions will be mentoring others, being great role models, and helping enhance the quality of life in the communities in which you live,” he said.

As someone who is devoted to education and the mentoring of others, I couldn’t agree more.

Racing to the top through experiential learning

Let me sign off with some exciting news. Earlier this month I received word that Missouri S&T’s Human Powered Vehicle Competition Team earned first place at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers 2015 Human Powered Vehicle Challenge East Coast Competition.

The competition challenges students to design, build and operate a human-powered vehicle for practical use. Missouri S&T’s team earned first place on its innovation report, third place on its engineering report, first place in the women’s and men’s speed events, and first place in the endurance event. The team’s scores totaled to earn it first place overall.

These are exactly the kinds of experiential learning opportunities we’re trying to support through our strategic plan, and soon all undergraduates will be required to complete an experiential learning component before graduation. You can learn more about our plans to expand experiential learning in our most recent strategic plan progress report.

Once again, to all of our alumni — the young and young at heart — I wish you the very best, and I hope you’ll come home to visit often.

Warmest regards,

Cheryl B. Schrader, Ph.D.
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