On Sunday, May 18th, Franklin University Switzerland celebrated its 44th Commencement Ceremony at Lugano’s lakeside Palazzo dei Congressi. This year marked a particularly special ceremony as this year’s graduates are the first to receive degrees from Franklin as a university.
As musicians from the Swiss-Italian Conservatory played “Pomp and Circumstance,” 88 students from 21 different countries filed into the auditorium. They were followed by Franklin’s faculty and members of the Board of Trustees.
President Greg Warden acknowledged the accomplishments of the graduating students and then introduced Pascal Tone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees as well as founding member and former President of the University. Tone welcomed everyone and said: “You and your fellow degree recipients from the Taylor Institute will be the first class to graduate from Franklin University Switzerland. It has been 45 years since I and four other young educators, barely older than you, began an adventure, which brings us to this point today in Franklin’s history… I sense the same eagerness and excitement on the part of students, faculty and staff for the global educational experience which is truly unique at Franklin, which we are so proud today to recognize as Franklin University Switzerland. It is an honor to be part of today’s commencement ceremony.”
Tone then announced the winner of the 2014 Ursula Gentile Lowerre Outstanding Service Award, which was created eight years ago to recognize one alumnus or alumna who has shown great and consistent dedication to the University. This year’s recipient was Meg Salyer, who graduated from Franklin College in 1973. Salyer has served as a member of the Franklin Board of Trustees, the Family Association’s Career Networking Committee and the Global Alumni Reunion advisory committee. “Meg Salyer has demonstrated a profound commitment to Franklin and to her local community through acts of service, leadership and philanthropy,” said Tone. “Franklin University Switzerland would not be where it is today without the support and involvement of alumni volunteers like Meg Salyer.”
President Warden then introduced this year’s Honorary Degree recipients: Warren B. Mosler, Erik O. Nielsen, and Carlos Salinas de Gortari. The ceremony continued with the Keynote Address by Carlos Salinas de Gortari, former President of Mexico. In his address, he encouraged graduates to be thankful to those who supported them during their studies, especially their] family. He then spoke about how Franklin education had taught them to “go beyond mere imagination and begin the process of knowledge.” But while they had been trained to think, they should now be prepared to act. “You have to be not only a philosopher who interprets the world, but also a human being who changes it,” proclaimed Salinas de Gortari.
The highly anticipated conferring of diplomas then began. First to be awarded were the Master of Science in International Management degrees, presented by Dr. Corinne Young, Director of the Taylor Institute. President Warden and Dean Sara Steinert Borella then presented Bachelor of Arts degrees to 88 students. Each recipient, attired in the traditional black cap and gown, was greeted by enthusiastic applause and cheering from friends and family in the audience.
Following the conferring of degrees, Professor Brack Hale introduced the 2014 Valedictorian, Daniel Merkle, from Avon, Minnesota. Merkle, who graduated magna cum laude with a major in Environmental Studies and minor in Political Science, went on to explain to his fellow graduates – with a smile – how Franklin had “ruined [their] lives forever.”
“We are no longer the same people who said goodbye at airports around the world on our way to Lugano for the first time. We are not the students who walked into Da Vinci, Giardino, Panera, Airone or wherever it may have been to awkwardly meet our first-year roommates not knowing where they were from, what they were like, or their cultural backgrounds, only their names on the door…we would never have met one another and had our lives and worldviews expanded —whether in the classroom, on Academic Travel™, or in the pub — by the classmates, faculty, and staff who sit in this room today.
“We are graduating from a university that not only became our home, but changed our lives irreversibly (…). Franklin has shown us that our grand travel schemes, our adventurous life plans, and our ability to experience the world are not bound by what we thought we knew or by what others say is possible, as long as we remain willing and eager to try something new”.
President Warden then addressed the Class of 2014. He commented that Franklin was “celebrating a wonderful moment, the first graduating class of what has now become Franklin University Switzerland. I hope that as a graduate of Franklin University you will become, as we say in our mission statement: responsible, compassionate, and collaborative leaders in this increasingly complex and interconnected world. We have placed our hopes and energies in you, in the faith that that you will accept this challenge and that through it you will prosper.”
The ceremony concluded with the traditional tossing of the graduates’ tasseled caps and a procession leading to a festive reception with families, friends, and the whole Franklin community.
Franklin University Switzerland is a private, residential, four-year, US and Swiss accredited university located in Lugano, Switzerland, the principal city of Switzerland’s southernmost Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. An American liberal arts institution in an international environment, Franklin is fully accredited as a university in the United States by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, and in Switzerland by the Swiss University Conference. Franklin places emphasis on cross-cultural perspectives. A commitment to courses of study that are international in perspective and cross-cultural in content has been the cornerstone of its education mission since its founding in 1969.
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