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Published on October 15, 2021

Final Thoughts


When you read this, several months will have gone by since Eastern celebrated its 131st Commencement Exercises this past May. In 2020, graduation was limited to a virtual event on YouTube, and while we worked hard to offer the best experience we could for last year’s graduating class, it just wasn’t the same.

This May, we returned to campus for the first time in 13 years for a safe outdoor celebration — it was a sight to see! Joy and hope brightened the faces of our graduates and their families alike, even behind their facemasks. Four events spread over two days allowed every member of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who wanted to join us to experience the culminating day of their college careers.

 I share these memories to make the point that going to college is not a given: most Americans do not hold a college degree. Nor is a degree “given” to a graduate — each student works hard to earn their college diploma. It represents not only their hard work, but the knowledge and skills they have acquired in the process. Regardless of one’s major, an Eastern liberal arts education has the added benefit of providing graduates with the broad intellectual competencies in demand by U.S. employers — critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, ethnics, teamwork. Whether you graduated from Eastern this past May or decades ago, I trust that you can cite many instances of how you have put your Eastern education to work — in your career, in your home life and in your community.

The world today strains from economic uncertainty, social unrest and technological change. It is a world that demands leadership from thoughtful people who are committed to working together for the good of future generations. The degree you earned at Eastern and the liberal arts foundation you experienced have never been more important.

Our democracy, our freedoms and our way of life all depend on Eastern’s ability to continue to offer a college education to students from all walks of life. As we emerge from the shadows of the COVID-19 pandemic, I am encouraged by the continued commitment of Eastern alumni and other donors to provide financial support to our students, especially those with the greatest unmet need. For too many students, paying for a college education is a burden their families cannot shoulder alone. With your generous assistance, we can continue to ensure access to an Eastern degree.

When a student walks across the stage at Commencement, as upwards of 1,000 graduates did this past May, they are not only celebrating the past four years or their special graduation day. They are reaffirming the bright future that lies ahead. Thank you for helping them to shine.

Kenneth J. DeLisa

Vice President for Institutional Advancement

Chief Human Resources Officer