Chancellor Speech at Commonwealth Honors College

Prepared Remarks by Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy
Commonwealth Honors College, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Celebration of Excellence
May 12, 2017


Good afternoon! Welcome families and friends – and of course our graduates – to our 2017 Celebration of Excellence.

It’s a fitting name for this gathering, for in successfully graduating from Commonwealth Honors College, you have each defined yourself through excellence.

Over the course of your undergraduate career, you met the academic rigors of the university and further challenged yourselves with the requirements of the Honors College, including senior projects and honors theses. Collectively, you have demonstrated, over and over again, your commitment to intellectual exploration and personal development.

Taking full advantage of the extensive resources of the university, you engaged in research, scholarship and creative activity. And your achievements have been recognized by your peers, your faculty, and beyond our campus.

Using your creative talents to encourage critical thinking and community engagement, you:

  • Produced a musical addressing eating disorders;
  • Created exhibits and educational materials for the new Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield;
  • And, collaborated with other UMass students and alumni to win the 48 Hour Film Project, earning you a chance to compete nationally in Project Filmapalooza.

And, of the 17 students nominated by their faculty for the university’s highly competitive Rising Researchers Award, 16 are graduating members of the Commonwealth Honors College.

Your reputation for excellence has also been recognized nationally. In recent years, our campus has been named a leader in producing Fulbright Scholars. These awards are presented to faculty, students and alumni. Of the seven UMass Amherst recipients selected thus far this spring, two are graduating members of the Commonwealth Honors College.

And, in addition to two Fulbrights, one of you won a Beinecke Scholarship – a highly competitive national award for graduate study in the arts, humanities, and social sciences – which you will use to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy at MIT. 

Later this afternoon we will all gather for the 147th Commencement Ceremony. As part of that tradition, we will recognize our 21st Century Leaders. These graduates have further distinguished their strong academic record by enhancing the reputation of the university through significant achievement and contribution to the campus. This year, we will celebrate the accomplishments of ten 21st Century Leaders: eight of them are members of the Commonwealth Honors College – and of that group, three are also Jack Welch Scholars.

Clearly, the Commonwealth Honors College Class of 2017 is committed to excellence. Having demonstrated this commitment throughout your undergraduate career, I know it will continue in the years ahead. And, I look forward, with great anticipation, to hearing of all your successes.

On behalf of the entire university community, I thank you for your contributions. Your energy and passion has left a wonderful and enduring mark on the campus.

Congratulations! And go UMass!