Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Hello, I’m Chris Long, Dean of the College of Arts & Letters at Michigan State University
Normally I would be staring out over a sea of green, the rafters filled to capacity with family, friends and loved ones to support each of you — the brilliant and resilient class of 2020!
Instead, I am coming to you on video … from my living room.
I can assure you, though, the distance between us and the unsettling reality of the current situation does not diminish the joy of this celebration or the significance or your accomplishment. We are so proud to celebrate the graduation of YOU the class of 2020 from the College of Arts & Letters!
You have undertaken a daunting journey during your time here at Michigan State University—it is fair to say that no class has endured more challenges or responded with more grace, creativity, and ingenuity than you have.
There is nothing the world can now throw at you that you are unprepared to handle. You have harnessed the great power of a liberal arts education – you are able to see the connections beneath the surface of our alienation, imagine possibilities where others only see obstacles, create new, more just realities in a world that too often, and especially now, seems broken and depleted.
The world needs your creativity and wisdom now more than ever. Aude Lorde, an author to whom I return regularly, captures something important about the leadership we need now. She says:
“We must recognize and nurture the creative parts of each other without always understanding what will be created.”Audre Lorde, Sister Outsider, 173.
I have a deep faith in the creative power of the Class of 2020.
You are well prepared to invent a future that is more caring, resilient, innovative, and just; because that is the kind of community you created here at MSU. The uncertain world into which you graduate needs your leadership and imagination. Take courage to act on behalf of the vulnerable among us, to mentor young people as Spartan alumni have mentored you, and to draw on the core values of your liberal arts education to restore connections and deepen relationship in communities across the globe.
When we meet again on the banks of the Red Cedar River, we will celebrate together, secure in the knowledge that we nurtured creativity as we navigated this difficult period together, that we created the more connected and caring future we need; until then, be well, stay safe, and take this time to celebrate your amazing accomplishment.
Congratulations to the MSU College of Arts & Letters Class of 2020!