University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire


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phone: (715) 836-4741
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Burmaster Stresses UW-Eau Claire's Role
in State's Commitment to Education

 MAILED:  Aug. 7, 2004

EAU CLAIRE - Education must be Wisconsin's top priority, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elizabeth Burmaster said during her "Charge to the Class" at today's commencement ceremony in Zorn Arena at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

"Today you will join the unbroken tradition of Wisconsin graduates who are committed to pursuing the common good as active, productive citizens," Burmaster told the more than 200 graduates and their guests.

Burmaster, a member of the UW System Board of Regents, stressed the importance of the role that UW-Eau Claire has played in that tradition, mentioning its more than 60,000 alumni, as well as the continuing importance of its contributions, "not only for the Chippewa Valley, but for our entire state and nation."

Woven throughout Burmaster's speech were references to symbols especially significant to UW-Eau Claire Blugolds, such as the ringing of the carillon.

"This bell serves as a reminder of the university's past and a commitment to the continued future of UW-Eau Claire as one of the centers of teaching and learning excellence," said Burmaster. "As we hear the ringing of your school bells, we should feel, resonating deep within our souls, our unwavering commitment to education and enlightenment as our generation's gift to the future."

While congratulating each graduate and "the wide circle of families, spouses, children, friends and supporters who made the dream of education possible for these graduates," Burmaster took a special moment to recognize and thank those graduating from the teacher education program.

"Wisconsin's schools need the energy, drive and talent of the nearly 50 teacher-educators in this graduating class. They are carrying forward the tradition that has made UW-Eau Claire a key part of our state's heritage," said Burmaster, referring to UW-Eau Claire's roots as a teacher-training institution, then known as the Eau Claire Normal School.

Burmaster went on to say that she had attended many graduation ceremonies over the years and had seen "joy and satisfaction" in all those graduates' faces, as well as in those facing her today.

"But, in today's graduates, I also see something new - eyes opened to a new reality of increasing global interdependence," Burmaster said. "Eyes and minds opened to the realization that our efforts here in Eau Claire, here in Wisconsin, here in the United States, have a far-reaching impact across the globe."

Burmaster spoke of leadership, recalling the teachings of "one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century," Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"He said that all life is interrelated, all humanity part of one process, and to the degree that I harm my brother, to that extent, I am harming myself. Leadership is based on the ability to see how all humanity is related, how all parts of society are related, and how things move in the same direction," said Burmaster.

The state superintendent approached the end of her speech by challenging the new graduates, asking that as they leave the UW-Eau Claire campus they assume and occupy their place in history "as one of the finest group of men and women this institution has produced."

"The university seal proudly stamps one word on your diplomas - excellence. Make your alma mater's motto your life goal," Burmaster said.

Burmaster also reminded today's graduates how much Wisconsin needs them. She called them to come back to Eau Claire, back to Wisconsin, to help the community and the state secure a future for their children and grandchildren.



UW-Eau Claire Home

Excellence. Our measure, our motto, our goal.

 Judy Berthiaume, Director
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Schofield 201
(715) 836-4741

Updated: August 11, 2004