Crichton Campus graduation ceremony

The Principal's Charge to the Graduates of Crichton Campus, 2007

May I begin by adding my warmest congratulations to you on your achievement.  While I will mention something of the future later, I want to focus on you – because this is your day.

Graduations are special days indeed. It is for you a crowning moment as it marks the culmination of all your hard work and effort. So well done!

And in completing this chapter in your lives, you’ve achieved something else. You’ve repaid the faith of your family and friends, your teachers and supervisors, all those people who have invested in you and supported you. Many of them will be here today. This marks the end of a journey for them too. Throughout your studies they have sat through your exams, waited for your results, worried about the pressures you are under. They have applauded your achievements today. This might be a good time for you to say thank you to them publicly, for making this journey with you.

It is also a very special moment because it’s a point of transition. You entered this building as graduands. You will leave it as graduates. Whatever else happens, nobody can ever take this day away from you – nor what it means. If today is the celebration of a chapter completed, it is also a new beginning as you look forward to how you will use your new knowledge and skills: as graduates you are in a special position which brings with it a responsibility to make a difference to the communities you belong to – whether that is to their social and cultural well-being or their economic vitality and wealth generation.

And it means something.  In fact, it means a lot. You can never be quite the same again. For in gaining a degree and qualification you have surely proved something to yourselves. And you most definitely have proved something to those around you.

So what have you proved to yourself? You will have your own thoughts on this– you alone will know the personal challenges you have overcome and the private goals you have had to set yourself to get to this day. But surely one thing is for certain - you have proved that you can do it! You have achieved through study and application a high standard essential to gaining a Glasgow University degree. That should never be underestimated – it’s something to take pride in.  It should be a source of confidence that will help you to achieve, whatever path you take.

And what have you proved to others? You have shown not only that you have gained knowledge and insight into particular subject areas but that you possess an ability to embrace ideas and concepts, analyse them, reflect on and understand them, and then  communicate what you have found to others.

Of course the value and importance of a University to the citizens and communities of which it is a part, has been and remains a burning issue for the people here and for all of us involved in Higher Education. When I visited the campus for the Crichton Conversation in March, I did so at a time when a strong public expenditure case was being finalised on behalf of the sector by Universities Scotland. It was setting out an evidence based case to establish the vital role Universities play in the wealth, well being and reputation of our nation. As I noted then, and as I repeat today, Scotland has every reason to be proud of its Universities. We punch above our weight!

As graduates of Glasgow, you are part of that success story. I know we have been through difficult days. But this shouldn’t detract from the success we share. The University has worked hard and invested much in Crichton over the years and we are proud of what has been achieved. Ted has mentioned many examples. And it was good yesterday to receive from Caidhn, whose mother Wendy has just graduated today, and who was one of the walkers from Crichton to Gilmorehill, the book of essays reflecting the value, benefit and opportunities many of our alumni have experienced from being at Crichton.

It is you, our graduates, who represent the fruit of our commitment and I, along with all your teachers and colleagues, want to celebrate that fact with you. And let me make this clear – the only decision we have taken to date is that we cannot make an undergraduate intake for 2007-08. We have not said or agreed that we are withdrawing from Crichton.

Around the end of July a new strategy prepared by the funding council in consultation with stakeholders and participating bodies at Crichton will be published, and Glasgow University will continue in discussion to see how best we can contribute to the future of the campus. Any developments however, must, as we’ve consistently said, be predicated on proper funding, proper support and must be sustainable. We have played our part in making Crichton what it is today and we are looking to find a way forward that works for all concerned.

But this is your day and I’m sure for you, the future is suggesting all sorts of further possibilities. A degree certainly opens doors. It certainly raises expectations. Because you have achieved much, much more will be expected of you. As you walk back down this aisle, a graduate of Glasgow, I hope you will sense the occasion, breath in the moment and move out and on to that world of possibilities, with a new confidence and a desire to take what is now yours, and make the most of it.

I wish you well.

First published: 11 July 2007

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