2008 Commencement Ceremony
The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry held its 2008 commencement ceremony on May 16, marking the 119th year that the school has celebrated graduates as they begin their professional careers.
This year, the School of Dentistry graduated 153 students, including 100 doctors of dental surgery, 43 dental hygienists, and 10 graduates of advanced education and dental specialty programs. The long-standing tradition of the commencement ceremony is an opportunity to publicly recognize the achievements of the school's graduates.
The ceremony opened with welcoming comments from Dean Patrick M. Lloyd, who spoke of recent advancements within the School of Dentistry. "We will always remember the Class of 2008, with respect and appreciation," he told the graduates. "You were the class that played a significant role in helping shape a new vision for the School of Dentistry."
"You contributed to, participated in, and experienced a transformation that will long mark this time as a watershed period," Lloyd continued. "During your years, we moved from a requirement-based clinical education program to a competency-based curriculum. We had the most successful accreditation site visit in decades. We took a giant step forward in integrating our dental hygiene and dental programs. We brought second-year dental students into the clinics. We made a school-wide commitment to outreach. We opened the most advanced dental simulation clinic in the world. We initiated a program for internationally educated dentists that created opportunities, changed lives, and brought the world into our school. We got engaged in the legislative process."
Dean Lloyd then introduced several graduates to speak. Representing two classes of dental hygiene graduates were Amy A. McNamara and R. Njeri Gordon, and Nicholas P. Wangler spoke on behalf of graduating dental students. Lloyd then introduced General John W. Vessey, Jr., whom Lloyd called a "living treasure of our great state," to give the graduation address.
Born and raised in Minnesota and a current resident of Garrison, Minn., General Vessey is a decorated soldier, diplomat and advisor to presidents whose distinguished 46 years of military service began when he enlisted in the Minnesota National Guard in 1939 and officially concluded in 1985 with his three-year term as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the recipient of numerous honors, including the Purple Heart and, in 1992, the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In St. Paul, the General John Vessey Jr. Leadership Academy bears his name.
Distinguished in both times of war and peace, General Vessey shared thoughts about effective leadership, public service, personal responsibility, and maintaining an enduring sense of “place” in Minnesota.
After the degrees were presented, Dean Lloyd spoke to the graduting class. "I encourage you to tell your story about your dental and dental hygiene education and experience at the U to others – we need to be ambassadors for our school and the profession," he told them.
"Get involved, lead the way, take responsibility – in our profession and in your communities. You been given much and therefore much is expected. People will look to you for advice, for all sorts of issues – be there, help when you can, and as you’ve done here, MAKE DIFFERENCE."