University of Wisconsin-River Falls

News Source

Dec. 20, 2003


UW-RF Grads Hear Stories of Students' Courage

As some 311 bachelor's and master's candidates at UW-River Falls gathered at their commencement ceremony on Saturday, they heard stories of strength and courage about their classmates.

The graduates were joined by thousands of their family members in the ceremony at the Robert P. Knowles Physical Education and Recreation Center.

Addressing them was English Professor Jennifer Brantley, recipient of the 2003 Distinguished Teacher award. Brantley, who is the editor of the internationally circulated Literary Magazine Review and an accomplished poet, told the assembly that she has a penchant for telling stories.

Her address, "Stories of Courage, Things of Wonder," reflected on what she has learned from her students.

Among the poignant stories she related were those of:

"That's the kind of person she is, the kind of place our university here at River Falls is."

"I delivered his eulogy a week later, humbled by his courage, amazed by the bravery it took to reach out even in death to give me a precious gift."

Brantley added, "And there are so many more stories of courage, things of wonder, so many daily acts of courage from students—when they make choices based on their hearts, their conscience, not on market value, taking instead a long view of the world and community."

She concluded, "Now demand the best of yourselves every day. Remember to give back to your community, to your family, to make decisions, not based on market value, but based instead on your heart, your moral compass, your education."

Also at the ceremony, the University's Outstanding Service Award was presented to Jeff McCardle, a 1978 alumnus who is the senior business loan manager at WESTconsin Credit Union in River Falls. McCardle was nominated for his extensive contributions in time and resources as a mentor to interns, and as a frequent lecturer in classes. He has served for 10 years on the UW-RF Foundation Board of Directors and is the current chair of the board. The award is the highest the University can bestow on a friend of the institution.

UW-RF graduating senior Karen Walker sang at the ceremonies. Walker, a speech communications major from Princeton, Minn., led the assembly in the UW-RF Pledge Song and "America the Beautiful."

Chancellor Ann Lydecker conferred degrees at the commencement ceremonies. Candidates for degrees were presented by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ginny Coombs; Interim Dean Stephen Ridley of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences; Dean Gorden Hedahl of the College of Arts and Sciences; Dean Barbara Nemecek of the College of Business and Economics; Dean Lee Zaborowski of Outreach and Graduate Studies; and Dean Connie Foster of the College of Education and Professional Studies.

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