Become indispensable, alumnus tells UW-Green Bay grads

A record graduating class for a UW-Green Bay mid-year commencement received indispensable advice from a distinguished alumnus – “become indispensable.”

Daniel Keegan, Director of the Milwaukee Art Museum and a 1972 UW-Green Bay graduate, told the 411 graduates at ceremonies Saturday (Dec. 19) at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts, that the wisest nugget of wisdom that he could offer is: “Whatever you do from this day forward, make yourself indispensable.”

While Keegan acknowledged the difficult economic setting facing graduates, he said his advice wasn’t just meant for their job search, but in their days ahead in all their endeavors.

“You are stepping into a world that is vastly different, more challenging on more fronts, experience more division and discord, in an economic environment stressed like no other in recent memory,” Keegan said. “But ladies and gentlemen, that is precisely your opportunity. If everything were going along beautifully why would the world need you? Whether biologist, marketer, computer scientist or counselor, nurse, lawyer, philosopher or poet/engineer, chemist, teacher or trainer/artist, entrepreneur, musician or manger; you are the future and the world needs you in whatever you do.”

Keegan, who is a Green Bay native, confessed to the graduates, their families and friends that he skipped his graduation in 1972, “and I’ve regretted it ever since.”

Graduating class speaker Allen Voelker of Manitowoc, acknowledged that, “today is a bittersweet and surreal day, but nevertheless a great day.”

Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean Scott Furlong introduced Voelker noting that he embodied the best of a UW-Green Bay education, “graduating with combined studies in biology and the natural science, as well as a strong liberal arts foundation. He taught and mentored in local classrooms, studied abroad and was an active campus and community volunteer.

“Allen did all of this, incidentally, while achieving highest honors – summa cum laude,” Furlong said.

Presiding over the 40th fall commencement ceremony were Chancellor Thomas Harden and Provost Julia Wallace. It was the first commencement at UW-Green Bay for both.

In his remarks Chancellor Harden told the assembled crowd that, “this is the happiest day of the year on our campus. We celebrate the success of our new graduates and we know they will distinguish themselves and our University in the years ahead.”

Nick Cibula of Green Bay was the December recipient of the Outstanding Student Award, selected by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Alumni Association. He received his bachelor’s degree with a double major in Public Administration and political science.

Charles Pruitt, President of the UW System Board of Regents, representing the board, brought a bit of levity to the moment first by noting that his visit came not long after the UW-Green Bay Phoenix men’s basketball team had defeated UW-Madison, the flagship school of the UW System.

With Saturday’s commencement, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has now conferred 26,500 diplomas. The ever-widening reach of the University was evident by a display of 75 international and tribal flags.