2015 Commencement: Eric Rothenbuhler, dean, School of Communications, Webster University | Webster University

School of Communications 2015 Commencement: Eric Rothenbuhler, dean

Delivering rained out speeches as promised

ST. LOUIS (SEPT. 16, 2015) – Graduates of the School of Communications, parents, spouses, partners, families, friends, supporters, faculty, staff, and guests – Greetings!

It was a lot of fun, our Commencement ceremony in the rain on May 9, but we had to abbreviate our speeches.

At that time, we promised we would make them available to you in full, so we are here today to give our Commencement speeches for you.

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Transcript – 2015 Commencement Speech: Eric Rothenbuhler, dean, School of Communications, Webster University

We are here today for a beautiful ritual, the Commencement, the beginning of a new life, marked by the rite of transition from the social identity and role of student into that new life.

In the central and most important part of our ceremony today, we will confer degrees. These are markers of success, of learning, achievement, and expertise.

In this rite of transition students become former students and enter a new relationship with their former teachers, with their alma mater, and with the world at large.

Congratulations on your achievement: You have worked hard, you have learned much, and you have gained much.

Congratulations also on your choice: You have chosen to study communication, at a time of worldwide change across its many fields, practices, and media. You have made a brave choice, at an important time.

Never before have more media been more important to more people in more different ways than today.

Never before has the pace of growth and change in communication and media been faster than today.

Never before have the range of invention and discovery been wider than today.

Your future in communication and media is wide-open.  Whether you practice in one of the traditional communication industries, or as a communication specialist in some other industry, like retail or finance, in government, or non-profit work, or if you use your communication skills to excel in some wholly different profession, your future does not yet exist, and you have the chance to invent it.

How are you prepared for that wide-open, unpredictable future, for success in a field where the only thing we can promise you is change?

Communication skills, of course: You understand how to research a problem, a question, how to study an issue. You've got skills in writing, message design and audience adaptation. You can tell stories in multiple media, you understand teamwork, creativity, problem solving, and project management. Communication skills.

Global Citizenship: Our curriculum has been designed, your experiences have been structured for you to achieve individual excellence and global citizenship; individual excellence not only for the sake of your own achievement, but for the quality of your citizenship; for the sake of a world in which we all live together, for better or worse, until . . .you know how the rest of that goes.

So you are prepared with communications skills and global citizenship as your orientation.

To be creative, ethical, socially engaged communicator:

Always learning, so never afraid of change;

Always socially connected, so never alone with a problem;

Always achieving goals, so guaranteed a life of success.

So you are well-equipped for your future, and you may be leaving school today, but I hope you will remain a student, for that is a necessary frame of mind for the successful communicator.

To be a student is to be open to new experience, to the strange, to the other;

To be a student is to seek the connection, to absorb the new, to allow it to expand the self, to let your self be changed by what you first experience as different, as foreign or odd and to know more because of it;

To be a student is to know what you do not yet know, and how to seek it.

It is to live in a self-improving way.

So I encourage you all to be creative, ethical, socially engaged communicators, and to be students of life, students for life.

As you move on and the years since you studied with us begin to accumulate, the most important thing and the most enduring thing you will have learned here, is the activity of thinking and learning itself, the capacity for curiosity, the drive to ask questions, and the skills to seek their answers.

Thank you.

Now I would like to invite Associate Dean Paaige Turner to introduce our commencement speaker.

About the School of Communications
The School of Communications at Webster University prepares students to excel as skilled professionals in the global field of communications. We provide theory and practice in media courses framed within a liberal arts-based curriculum, augmented by personalized mentorship, and professional development opportunities. Fifteen distinct majors are available at the undergraduate level and master’s degrees in six diverse fields of communications. We offer BA and MA programs on the Webster campuses in Geneva, Vienna, London, Leiden, Thailand, and Ghana, as well as in Saint Louis and online.

About Webster University
With its home campus in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Webster University (www.webster.edu) comprises an action-oriented global network of faculty, staff, students and alumni who forge powerful bonds with each other and with their communities around the globe. Founded in 1915, Webster is a private non-profit university with more than 17,000 students studying at campus locations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa and in a robust learning environment online. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.