The University of Iowa

Sally Mason: Commencement going international

May 14th, 2014

Guest Commentary by UI President Sally Mason for The Daily Iowan

sally mason

Sally Mason

Commencement is going global. This weekend, thousands of Iowa Hawkeyes will walk across the stage, shake hands with campus leaders, and be recognized for their achievement in earning a University of Iowa degree. Among our graduates will be hundreds of students from other countries, those who have brought a welcome and necessary international perspective to our campus. The Hawkeye family is growing internationally. So that everyone’s family and friends can be part of the celebration of such a significant life achievement no matter where they may be, this spring we’re streaming all our commencement ceremonies live on the web to reach people around the world.

For most students, a college education is a team effort. Many people — loved ones, colleagues, friends — make it possible for our students to accomplish their higher education goals through intellectual, moral, emotional, and financial support. Commencement is a celebration for all the people who have made graduation possible for our students, and with the wonders of modern technology, we can now include even those team members who live thousands of miles away.

As globalization accelerates, we have no choice but to enhance our international ties and extend our educational reach. But even more importantly, at Iowa, we embrace international education as a choice — as both a public good and as an exciting intellectual challenge. On campus, we believe it is important to encourage our students to study the languages, cultures, and histories of other peoples around the world. We also believe it is important for students to learn in diverse environments, interacting with people, cultures, and ideas that are different from their own. That is why we are so pleased and proud that our international student population is at record levels. To be a Hawkeye means to be globally aware, and that means we value and support all of our students, no matter what part of the world they come from.

In addition to commencement’s live web streaming, we’re also connecting with Hawkeyes everywhere on social media — not just well-known platforms such as Facebook but also such networks as WeChat, which has a big following worldwide. And we want to keep expanding our international reach. Given our growing connections to China in particular, we’re also piloting a project to stream the Tippie College of Business commencement with Chinese-language translation.

I’m thrilled with this opportunity to share Iowa excellence worldwide and to help our international students’ families and friends experience the joy and pride of commencement in real time. Whether you’re from Sioux City or Mexico City, Chicago or Shanghai, or Madrid, Iowa, or Madrid, Spain, you are all equally Iowa Hawkeyes. Congratulations on your graduation and best wishes for continued success no matter where you and your talents end upon the globe.