Many years ago, we were asked to host a graduation ceremony for a graduate. It’s my understanding that prior to that date, we mailed the diplomas to students. That first ceremony spawned an annual event where we invite all graduates who have earned their degree since the previous year’s graduation to travel to the Washington, DC area where we conduct a traditional graduation albeit for an online university.
Approximately 2,140 students earned diplomas over the past year. They studied with us from around the world. We had approximately 185 who attended graduation over the weekend. They journeyed from states as far away as Washington and California and from countries as far away as Germany and Nigeria. Nearly 1200 of their friends and family attended graduation as well. Awards were given out to the top scholars in each school, the overall top graduate, and the top faculty members in each school as well as overall. Dr. Christopher Reynolds, Program Manager for our Emergency Management program, was voted best faculty member. We also awarded two posthumous degrees to students who gave their lives in the service of our country. Sergeant Edward Philpot earned a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies and Senior Chief Charles Zwierzynski earned a Bachelor’s degree in Transportation Logistics Management.
It’s my opinion that graduation is the best moment in the year for a faculty/staff member to see the result of our efforts. The graduate is excited, the family is excited, and the faculty and staff members enjoy meeting the graduates who journey to Washington, DC to accept his/her degree. Distance learning expands access to education for many, but the face-to-face contact which is unnecessary for the education is valuable for the emotional feedback of faculty and staff.