Michael Beeth is a professor in the teaching and learning department. His scholarship includes an array of published works, including manuscripts, scholarly papers, books and chapters, and he has been a principal or co-principal investigator on grants totally nearly $4 million. Beeth served as associate dean in the College of Education and Human Services and has been a member of the dean’s staff and the dean’s administrative council. He has represented UW Oshkosh on UW System’s All Learning Counts Committee, investigating ways non-traditional students might receive credit for prior learning. Beeth’s greatest accomplishments have been in building partnerships between the University and other institutions—he has been instrumental in directing and sustaining the Alternative Careers in Teaching partnership, and he guided the development of a new education partnership between UWO and Fox Valley Technical College.
The following are Beeth’s prepared remarks from the afternoon ceremony during UWO’s 148th spring commencement:
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Good afternoon graduates of the class of 2022 – and a good afternoon it is bound to be for each of you! Today you receive recognition for achievement in your chosen area of study. This achievement represents many years of effort in the classroom but more so, a good deal of perseverance on your part too. So important are your accomplishments that assembled here today with us are many who wish to be the first to congratulate you upon this achievement – your families and good friends, loved ones, and faculty from across the campuses are all here to celebrate your commencement at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.
Commencement marks a time for you to go forward from this place – to new ventures and new challenges, and a host of exciting opportunities that are soon to come your way. Today’s commencement will also mark a time of transition for you in your academic life – but then this is not the first time you have had to make such a transition. You might recall your first day of kindergarten as a transition – packing up all those brand new school supplies on a long list – the pencils and paper, boxes of tissues, crayons and markers and a pink eraser that had never been used – not knowing what you would do with all of those materials but knowing somebody thought you needed these things to be successful. You couldn’t know then that in addition to a list of supplies you would also need to develop a new set of social skills and graces, like who to sit by at lunch, who to play with on the playground or how incredibly important it would be the line leader. Little did you know then that your kindergarten teacher and your peers would be as important in helping you make this transition as was all the stuff you brought with you.
Fast forward to commencement from high school. This time taking with you documentation of academic accomplishments in the forms of a GPA, ACT scores, an official transcript, and letters of recommendation vouching that you were more than ready to meet any academic challenges you were about to face in college. Little did you know that being a new student on the UW Oshkosh campus would require you to find your way through seemingly endless lists of academic requirements – general education requirements, Quest 1, 2 and 3 classes, classes required for your major and minor, upper-level classes with really intriguing topics – and maybe you earned a certificate or two to boot! And if that wasn’t enough, there were very attractive opportunities that didn’t involve academic requirements like participating on our nationally recognized athletic programs, Model United Nations team or Dance Team, pledging to a fraternity or sorority, interacting with people from places you had never heard of but now you know someone who actually grew up in that place, participating in student research opportunities or performing in one of the fine arts, or just working out at the Student Recreation and Wellness Center. You managed to fill all of the hours of the day by engaging in countless academic, social and growth experiences associated with the people here at UW Oshkosh. You made this transition and persevered to your ultimate goal – the degree you earned in education, human services, healthcare or business.
Perhaps this is your first degree, or perhaps it is a master’s or doctoral degree. Regardless, today we recognize you for demonstrating the tenacity necessary to commence to the next stage in your life. Graduates receiving the master’s and doctoral degrees, your commitments to lifelong learning are well represented by advanced degrees – degrees that required you to produce new knowledge in your field through the research you conducted and reported. The original research studies you produced are now the kind of knowledge others who follow you will read and consider building upon as they seek to advance knowledge in the same field as you research has done. Your degree prepares you to become leaders in the fields of education, human services, healthcare or business and new opportunities are about to come your way because of your accomplishment. As the adviser for my master’s degree wisely shared with me many years ago: possessing an advanced degree will open doors you never knew existed. I am certain that many doors will open for you as well.
To the undergraduate students here who have completed a bachelors’ degree, you are about to join with all the UW Oshkosh graduates that came before for nearly 150 years. The education you take with you from UW Oshkosh will serve you well as you contribute your knowledge, skills, and insights no matter where you end up or what you end up doing. The only caution is that the transition you now face has no list of school supplies or checklists of course requirements. This time there is just a set of new things that rely upon your initiative: like trying to get a job; trying to have a little money left at the end of each month; trying to get any remaining stuff out of your parents’ home, trying not to move back home; and getting involved in the communities where you end up.
For this transition, the academic knowledge, technical skills, and personal qualities you possess that will combine to bring you success in your careers in education, human services, healthcare or business. How can I be sure of this? It is because you have shown that you can make any transition in front of you no matter your age or the tasks with which you are faced. Your commencement today is just the beginning of this new journey – I am confident each of you has the preparation needed to be as successful now as you have been successful in the past. I join will all present to wish each of you the very best on your commencement from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.