Vincennes University president encourages graduates to "elevate others"

Vincennes University president encourages graduates to "elevate others"

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December 07, 2019

December 7, 2019 / Vincennes University president encourages graduates to “elevate others”

2019 Mid-Year Commencement Photos

VINCENNES, Ind. – Vincennes University held its Mid-Year Commencement exercises on Dec. 7 in the Red Skelton Performing Arts Center and 486 graduates were conferred degrees or certificates.

The graduating class included eligible members from all VU sites, including American Sign Language in Indianapolis, Aviation Technology Center in Indianapolis, Distance Education, Early College Program, Gibson County Campus in Fort Branch, Indiana Military Education, Jasper Campus, and Military Education. The graduates represented 66 of Indiana’s 92 counties, 19 other states, and one international country.

Vincennes University President Chuck Johnson praised the graduates for their achievements and hard work. He focused his remarks around the television documentary “Magic & Bird: A Courtship of Rivals”. He shared how basketball hall-of-famers Magic Johnson and Larry Bird worked hard “every day to get just a little bit better at something else”.

“You’ve reached a milestone in your education and your development,” Chuck Johnson said. “You should take a moment to feel good about what you’ve accomplished, but you shouldn’t stop there. Our economy and our world demand you take time and effort - all the time - to get better at what you do. To keep your skills relevant. To keep growing. It’s going to be critical to your ability to maintain a long-term career of success.”

Johnson also encouraged the graduates to elevate others. He explained how Bird and Magic Johnson were great individual players, who also helped make their teams better.

“They helped others be successful,” he said. “In my career and my life, I have seen that the best way for me to succeed is helping others to succeed as well. If you are in a team environment or you’re working in a place where you have others you depend upon, help them get better too. Invest in them. It’s going to pay back many, many dividends to you.”

He wrapped up his greetings with advice about facing adversity and taking one step forward.

“There are going to be times in your life when you feel like the weight of the world is on me and I don’t know if I’m going to get there, or maybe you have felt that before,” Johnson said. “Sometimes you have to take a step back and say, ‘I may not be able to solve the problem today, but I can take one more step toward solving that problem or getting out of that hole.”

Dr. Laura Treanor, provost and vice president of Instructional Services and dean of faculty, presided over the exercises. Elaine Burklow, president of the Faculty Senate, convened the ceremony. Diplomas were presented by College Deans Anna Miller, College of Business and Public Service; Michelle Cummins, College of Health Sciences and Human Performance; Joan Puckett, College of Humanities; Ty Freed, College of Technology; and Dr. Cynthia Ragle, College of Social Science, Performing Arts and Communication.

Linda Waldroup, vice president of Financial Services, gave the welcome. Savannah Linenburg, interim director of the Alumni Association, inducted the graduates into the association. The Blue and Gold Cord Awards were presented by Adam Booher, director of Student Activities.

Curt Coffman, dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Mathematics, recognized academic honors.

VU alumna Jayna Carie opened the ceremony singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and closed the proceedings with the “VU Alma Mater”. Bryce Mattox, president of the Student Government Association, provided a moment of reflection and a closing statement. The VU Campus Police Cadet Honor Guard presented and retired the Colors.

VINCENNES UNIVERSITY - Indiana’s First College

VU is state-supported with campuses in Vincennes and Jasper, the Aviation Technology Center and American Sign Language program in Indianapolis, Early College Career and Technical Education Centers, and additional sites such as the Gene Haas Training and Education Center in Lebanon, the Logistics Training and Education Center in Plainfield, and the Gibson County Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics in Fort Branch. A leader in developing Early Colleges statewide, VU also offers instruction at military sites throughout the nation.

In addition to offering a wide range of associate degree and certificate programs, VU also offers bachelor’s degree programs in technology, homeland security, nursing, secondary education programs in mathematics and science, and special education/elementary education.

VU enrolls students from throughout Indiana, 36 other states, and 21 other countries. Tuition and fees are the lowest among Indiana campuses with residence halls. VU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Founded in 1801, VU is Indiana’s first college and is the only college in the nation founded by an individual who would later become President of the United States. William Henry Harrison, the ninth U.S. President, founded VU while serving as governor of the Indiana Territory. More information is available at


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MARCIA MARTINEZ, University Life Reporter & Sports Information Director
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VINCENNES UNIVERSITY, Department of University Relations,