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Dec. 22, 2001

335 Commence at UW-River Falls Ceremony

Graduates of UW-River Falls on Saturday were encouraged to use their new-found knowledge to appreciate the uniqueness of those who are most important in their lives and to make life better for others.

In a metaphorical speech laced with humorous stories from his life, UW-RF commencement speaker Geoff Scheurman asked the 335 graduates to seek out a "poet prince" that can become their gauge for the best way to deal with life's challenges and successes.

Scheurman, a professor of teacher education who is UW-RF's Distinguished Teacher, delivered his remarks to the candidates and several thousand family members and friends who attended the fall commencement ceremony on Saturday (Dec. 22).

He was invited to deliver the address as the 38th recipient of the most prestigious award presented by the University to recognize excellence in fulfilling the Universityıs 127-year-old primary mission of undergraduate education.

Before joining the faculty at UW-River Falls in 1993, Scheurman taught middle school and high school in Douglas, Wyoming. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology with emphases in lifespan intellectual development, constructivist learning theory, and intrinsic motivation from the University of Iowa. His bachelor's and master's degrees are from the University of Wyoming.

In his address, Scheurman noted his early professional experiences as a middle school teacher in Wyoming and a teacher/mentor who took him under his wing. That friend died recently at an early age due to cancer; but his impact remains as Scheurman weaves those life experiences into his own concepts of the world that are framed against the humanities through the works of Shakespeare, Crane and Steinbeck, the music of composer Don Ellis, or the poetry of Saint-Exupery.

"This is your day and we celebrate your achievement. But let me give you a piece of advice from a poet prince. Be humble. Begin your journey by reaching out to the people who sit here in your honor ­ the people who changed your diapers, paid your bills, rose at 5 a.m. for generations to take care of the livestock.

"When we dropped you off at college for the first time and faced an empty seat at the dinner table, and listened to the silence emanating from the same room where you once annoyed us by perpetually tying up the phone, it was like a death in the family. And although some of us get second chances, there are no guarantees. Today ­ not tomorrow, today ­ search the caverns of your heart for the true musical prince. Throw your arms around the people who introduced you to those magical spotsŠ"

Also during the ceremony, Lawıs Nursery, Inc. of Hastings and United Parcel Service received Outstanding Service Awards in recognition of the programs and opportunities they offer to students and the support they lend to UW-RF campus activities.

Degrees at the commencement ceremonies were conferred by Chancellor Ann Lydecker. Candidates for degrees were presented by Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Ginny Coombs; Dean William Anderson of the College of Agriculture, Food & Environmental Sciences; Dean Gorden Hedahl of the College of Arts & Sciences; Dean Barbara Nemecek of the College of Business and Economics; and Karen Viechnicki of the College of Education and Professional Studies.


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