May 20, 2014
At commencement festivities this past weekend, we celebrated another year of successfully meeting our most important mission at KU Medical Center: educating the expertly trained, highly skilled and deeply compassionate health care professionals of tomorrow.
At four ceremonies in Kansas City on Saturday, I was thrilled to join our KU Medical Center faculty, students and their families and friends in celebrating our newest graduates. The KU School of Health Professions awarded 99 undergraduate degrees and 151 graduate degrees, the School of Nursing gave out 123 undergraduate degrees and 98 graduate degrees; and the School of Medicine awarded 188 M.D. degrees and 86 graduate degrees. We also had four students who earned their M.D./Ph.D. degrees this week.
And as it is every spring, it was a joy to see our School of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions graduates walking down the hill on the Lawrence campus on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to take part in KU's Commencement ceremonies. Our KU Medical Center graduates were among the hundreds - including KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little - who posted selfies on KU's Facebook page!
Everyone who works here has devoted their time, talent and expertise to the education of these students. So, thanks to each and every one of you for a job well done! (Pictures from several of the weekend's events are posted here and here.)
As I told our new health professions, nursing, and medicine graduates this weekend, they are now moving into a new and challenging part of their lives. Preventing, treating, and curing illnesses and caring for those who need their help will at many times feel all-consuming. But I have every confidence each and every one can rise to that challenge.
As I do every year at commencement, I urged our graduates to be leaders in their communities. The majority of our students have participated in community service during their time at KU Medical Center - in fact, student volunteer days are one of the first things they do when they arrive. Our students go on to be of service in so many ways, whether it's at the JayDoc Free Clinic in Kansas City or Wichita, collecting medical supplies for communities in need or going on mission trips outside the United States. We hope they will continue that work, whether it's in their neighborhoods or on the other side of the world. Also, I asked all our graduates to stay in touch with KU and to continue to be an advocate for their school - at the very least, by becoming a member of the KU Medical Center Alumni Association.
I know we take a great deal of pride in the fact that so many of this year's graduates are Kansas natives or residents. As a matter of fact, 574 of the 751 - or 76 percent - of this year's class are from Kansas. We know that many of our graduates will stay right here in Kansas to practice medicine, nursing or other health professions, which helps fulfill our promise to educate more health care professionals for our state.
As KU Medical Center's strategic plan articulates so well, our first mission is to educate outstanding students, in a team-based learning environment, by outstanding educators, through excellent academic programs. Each and every member of the KU Medical Center community participates in this mission in one way or another. This time of year in particular, I'm so grateful to our faculty and staff for their deep commitment to the educational mission of this university.