Dean Pianta’s Address To The Class of 2020 - Transcript


Greetings graduates, parents, family members, friends, and faculty. This is a remarkable day in a remarkable time. Of the many ways the novel coronavirus has disrupted our lives and work, to not celebrate your accomplishments in person is, for me, one of the most significant. Like everything associated with this time of disruption, it is deeply disappointing to not speak in person with you. And at the same time, I also know you and we together have learned to be resilient and resourceful in ways we might not have imagined.

I hope one thing we can take from this semester and celebrate today is a sense in pride we have made it to this point and not lose sight of the magnitude of that accomplishment.

I’d like to offer a few thoughts about your achievement. I share these with you while I eagerly await the day when we do gather again and we share in your success in person.

Today we award Doctors of Philosophy in Education, Doctors of Education, Education Specialists, Masters of Education, Masters of Science in Athletic Training, Masters of Teaching, and Bachelors of Science in Education. Six hundred and seventy-four of you are a part of this historic class.

Congratulations! You have my deepest respect and highest regard.

At this moment, I’m reminded of how profoundly important you are to the people and communities you will soon join to serve professionally. Your decision to devote your talent, time and energy to promote the success of others – to fostering human development – whether in schools, communities, health clinics, or human service agencies has never been more important, more needed and more inspiring.

As we continue through the next weeks and months of this unprecedented crisis and, after it passes, make the turn toward our new reality, you will take a role in reshaping the society that follows. Strengthening the human resources needed to make the world a better place, through advocacy, policy, scholarship, or work with students, clients and patients. I’m comforted knowing you will lead us into this future, and we recognize your character and thank you for your commitment.

As students, you excelled. Not only in your academic achievement but you also spent thousands of hours training and working with our partners in the field. With community agencies, in schools, human service organizations, clinics and hospitals, locally and abroad. Your efforts, learning skills to prepare you as professionals and your work as volunteers, enriched the lives of many thousands of persons.

Many of you have also demonstrated your commitment to public service by taking leadership roles in a variety of ways across Grounds. Through Education Council, SEEDS4Change, the Curry Research Conference, the Diversity Action Committee, Madison House, UVA Student Council, and the Honor Committee. And you have been recognized for your accomplishments, receiving national awards for your scholarship, dissertations, writing, and service projects.

And we are also very proud to graduate today a number of outstanding UVA student athletes, who have maintained a high level of excellence in their studies while giving Wahoo fans many reasons to cheer.

Graduates, I speak for the entire faculty in saying how proud we are. You truly represent the best of what we do as a school and as a university. And I strongly believe you are our reason for optimism and hope in the future.

As you transition from the Curry School, please do not leave us entirely. It is my commitment to you to stay in touch and to make available to you our support when, and as you need it.

To the Curry faculty, thank you. Your commitment to these graduates is evident in their success and accomplishment. Your dedication to our students and to your craft as teachers and scholars makes us all proud.

To parents, families and friends, thank you for the support you provide to our students. The accomplishment we celebrate today has special meaning at this time. And I know your support for our students has been a lifelong driving force in their success and even more indispensable in recent weeks. I hope you feel a special sense of pride today. May you enjoy this moment alongside your graduate and appreciate the role your dedication has played in this singular accomplishment.

Graduates, here’s to you! Until we see each other to celebrate in person with all of the pomp and circumstance you deserve, let me again say, Congratulations Class of 2020!