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More than 300 graduates honored during UMM's 2011 Commencement

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More than 300 graduates honored during UMM's 2011 Commencement
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

More than 300 seniors received degrees during the 48th annual University of Minnesota, Morris Commencement ceremony Saturday.

Faculty, staff, family, and friends gather in the P.E. Center to recognize the accomplishments of the graduates.

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Chancellor Jacqueline R. Johnson was unable to attend due to family reasons and professor Paula O'Loughlin delivered Johnson's prepared remarks.

University of Minnesota Regent Laura Brod also spoke briefly and congratulated the graduates.

Graduate Nate Christensen was honored as the Curtis H. Larson Award Recipient and delivered the student address. He recounted with humor how the infamous and traditional 2007 Homecoming tug-of-war pitting rival freshmen dorms against each other ended in injury for several people and that, instead of a dorm, "the rope won the tug of war."

That experience was emblematic of the 2011 class uniting to become on of the more accomplished class in UMM history. Numerous classmates were graduating with high distinction, distinction or honors, and that they were involved. About 25 new clubs and organizations were started in their four years on campus, adding to the 100 clubs and groups already in existence, he said.

He thanks the university and the community for allowing the class to flourish.

"Morris embraced our sense of interest and made it easy for our students to realize the products of their wide and wild imaginations," Christensen said.

UMM graduate Doug Lennick delivered the Graduation Address, relating stories of how he enrolled at UMM in 1970, left and enrolled at the U of M's Carlson school, but managed to fall a quarter short of his accounting degree.

Nonetheless, he became CEO and co-founder of the Lennick Aberman Group, he is an internationally known speaker on the development of successful individuals and organizations, with an area of expertise in the practical applications of the art and science of human behavior.

Lennick has written several books, including the recently released "Moral Intelligence 2.0: Enhancing Business Performance and Leadership Success in Turbulent Times."

But in 2008, he returned to UMM to complete his degree, noting that his book also happened to be required reading in one of the classes he was taking.

"I did well in that class," he said, drawing laughter.

He completed his degree at age 56 and told the graduates that they should remember that every day and every decision matters, and that they need to live for each day only; the past doesn't matter anymore and the future isn't promised to anyone. The first goal is to improve yourself, he said.

"Your opportunity to change the world is your opportunity to look at yourselves," Lennick said. "Look at yourselves and say, 'Where do I have the opportunity to improve me?' "

The Symphonic Winds and the Concert Choir performed several songs before and during the ceremony. Jenny Nellis, professor of studio art, was the Mace Bearer.

In recognition of the campus's origins as an American Indian boarding school, an American Indian Honor Song was performed by the Northern Wind Singers to recognize and pay tribute to the achievements of Morris scholars.

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