[BAND PLAYING] ["POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE"]
KEVIN HARRIS: Ask that everyone please be seated. Good morning. And welcome, again, to the ILR School's 77th Commencement Recognition Ceremony.
My name is Kevin Harris. I'm the Frank B Miller director of the ILR Office of Student Services. And I'm joined on stage by many ILR faculty. And joining us throughout the arena are a number of ILR staff members.
We're pleased to see the many family members, friends, and other guests in attendance to help us honor our degree candidates. Thank you for taking the time to be with us today. On behalf of my faculty and staff colleagues, I can speak for all of us in saying we are excited to spend the morning celebrating our amazing students and recognizing their accomplishments at Cornell and within the ILR school. It is now my pleasure to introduce Alex Colvin, Kenneth F Kahn Dean and Martin F Scheinman Professor of Conflict Resolution.
ALEX COLVIN: Welcome. Thank you all for coming today. Welcome to the graduation ceremony for students in ILR. I want to thank the many family and friends who've trekked from near and far to come here to recognize the students they have supported on their journeys through ILR. I want to thank our faculty and staff who've helped our students throughout their ILR education. But most important of all, I want to thank and congratulate our graduating students.
Students, we are here today to celebrate your accomplishments, to recognize the degrees you have earned. You are an impressive and accomplished group of students. You've completed a rigorous major, and many of you completed multiple minors, honors, theses, global scholars, and other distinctions.
Being ILRies, you've contested and won student leadership positions. You've joined clubs, led them, created new ones. You've started entrepreneurial businesses and social justice movements. You make us proud, also, a little tired with all the things that you do.
You work hard in class. You read. You write. You learn statistics. You master supply and demand diagrams. You learn to research and analyze legal problems.
You show the amazing all around achievements that ILR students are known for. And let's recognize the wonderful achievements of our graduate students, master students who've developed expertise across the broad range of labor relations and human resource management, doctoral students who are the emerging scholars, providing new research insights on topics that we've only begun to think about.
Whatever the degree you earn today, you're an ILRie whose accomplishments we are immensely proud of. But also, remember that this is not an achievement that you could have done on your own. One of my favorite assignments that I give to new students is to write something I call the three people paper.
In it, I ask the students to describe the work experiences of three members of their family. If possible, from three different generations. A grandparent, a parent, a sibling. I ask the students to reflect on how work has changed over time.
How did education make a difference? What was the impact of emigrating to a different country? How have careers changed to the type of workplaces we work in?
But the most striking thing to read in these essays is how each generation stands on the shoulders of the one that came before it, the grandparents who moved to a new country where they didn't speak the language to provide new opportunities for their children, the parents working long hours so their daughter or son could be the first in the family to go to college. You've achieved much through your hard work, but honor the work of those who helped get you here. Graduating students, please rise and join with me in giving round of applause to the family, the friends, the caregivers, supporters, and mentors who helped you get you where you are today.
Thank you. Please be seated again. Class of 2023 had its college years affected by profoundly disruptive events that forced you to adapt, to respond, and to push forward in new directions. Your college years were the pandemic years. In March of your freshman year, you were forced to evacuate campus and return home as a new virus started spreading around the world, disrupting societies and exacting a terrible human toll.
You were forced to resume your education online, getting used to Zoom class. Fall of 2020, you started your sophomore years in a campus transformed. Social distancing, pretty much the last thing you want out of college life, hybrid classes, remote office hours, biweekly COVID tests. Through all of this, you persevered and made sure that your education continued.
Over your time at Cornell, things gradually returned to normal. Cases went down, we got vaccinated, classes filled up again in person, masks eventually came off. And parties, I believe, may have resumed.
But I do want to remember and salute your efforts to continue your educational journeys through the hardest parts of this. You've known adversity, faced up to it, and recognized that this is a part of life. You're the class of 2023, and you'll be stronger for what you've come through.
Graduation is a time to reflect on your studies over the last four years. As ILR students, you've taken a broad range of classes in subjects ranging across disciplines from history, to economics, to law, organizational behavior, labor relations, human resources, statistics. You've learned a way-- a variety of ways to think about issues and solve problems. You've examined many important trends and challenges confronting our economy and society.
Recent years have reinforced the importance of understanding the complex and changing world of work. The issues we study at ILR are essential to the world we live in today. Think about the topic of remote work.
A couple of years ago, this was a niche topic studied by a few HR experts, but today, it is central to the national conversation. The home office, the Zoom meeting, the balance between work and family life, all are part of our daily conversation. Consider the reckoning with issues of racial justice and equity in our society that came to the fore again in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, another key event in the years when you were in college. In today's workplace, issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion are among the most challenging, but important ones to be addressed. Consider the way the surge of union organizing by baristas has changed the way we think about the--
It's changed the way we think about the daily cup of coffee, latte, or frappuccino. What do we owe those who provide the services that we rely on? What are the obligations of our great corporations to their employees, and to the rule of law that protects the right to organize and bargain collectively? These are issues of renewed urgency, brought to the fore by young workers of your generation, seeking to affirm and renew their rights at work.
Or consider one of the great issues of today, the explosion of generative AI. A year ago, no one had heard of ChatGPT. I think it's safe to say today, that almost every college student is aware of this tool and its potential for good or ill.
I'll give a shout out to the ILR student who went to the Catherwood Library reference desk for help finding the article by professors and Alexander Colvin and Thomas Kochen on health care reform and labor unions. Sounds like a great article, but I'm sorry to say, it doesn't exist. ChatGPT just made it up.
For students, ChatGPT may be a temptation for help with a last minute assignment when you're running out of time, but put on your ILR hat and think about what it means for the workplace. A tool that has the potential to enhance productivity? Absolutely.
But also, think about the law firm that can automate repetitive tasks with AI, and therefore, needs to hire fewer associates. Greater office productivity can mean fewer office workers and a labor market once again roiled by technological change. In the past, ILR studied the impacts of automation on factories and how containerization was facilitating globalization, with impacts on workers and labor conditions across the globe.
As we confront the new potential and challenges of AI, ILRies will continue to be at the forefront of thinking about the impact on the world of work and what it means for people and society. As we move forward, I hope you'll continue to see the value of the education that you've had here at ILR. I'm always struck by how often, when I talk to alumni, they mention the value of what they learned at ILR for their careers and lives, how to think analytically, how to deal with people, how to negotiate. Regardless of the fields they go into, they find the skills and knowledge that they acquired here incredibly valuable, and I'm confident that you will too.
Having earned your degree at Cornell will open doors for you. You'll have opportunities that are rare and valuable, and you should cherish that. But know that once you walk through those doors, you'll have to continue to show that you can realize your promise.
This is where you'll have the chance to employ that ILR education you've worked so hard for. Show that you can analyze complex situations. Bring together and apply your reading, writing, and analytical skills. Navigate organizations, negotiate deals, resolve conflicts, stand up for what is right, be a leader. Do the things that ILRies do well.
Your years at Cornell have been a journey filled with challenges and achievement. As we send you off, I'm put to mind the exhortation at the end of the poem Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson, where Ulysses is leading his band of heroes back to his home of Ithaca, the ancient city that our home on Caicos waters is named after. In the final line of the poem, Ulysses exhorts his band of compatriots to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. As you complete your own journey here at ILR, we look forward to your future journeys with pride and confidence at the great things you will strive to achieve in the years to come. Congratulations to you, the class of 2023.
KEVIN HARRIS: Thank you, Dean Colvin. It's now my pleasure to introduce Professor Chris Collins to recognize the class of 2023 graduate degree candidates.
CHRIS COLLINS: Dean Colvin, it is my pleasure to present the class of 2023 Doctor of Philosphy degree candidate. Jun Young Kim. Congratulations to the class of 2023 Doctor of Philosophy degree candidate. Dean Colvin, I now present the class of 2023 Master of Industrial and Labor Relations degree candidates.
Congratulations to the class of 2023 Master of Industrial Labor Relations degree candidates.
Dean Colvin, it's my pleasure to present the class of 2023 Master of Professional Studies degree candidates. Jang Won Jun. Ji Young Kim. Congratulations to the class of 2023 Master of Professional degree candidates. Dean Colvin, this concludes a presentation of the 2023 graduate degree candidates.
KEVIN HARRIS: Thank you, Professor Collins. And congratulations to our degree candidates once again. It's now my pleasure to introduce Professor George Boyer to present the class of 2023 Bachelor of Science degree candidates.
GEORGE BOYER: Dean Colvin, it is my honor to present the class of 2023 Bachelor of Science degree candidates.
I would now like to introduce Kevin Harris, Frank B Miller Director of Student Services, to continue presenting the class of 2023 Bachelor of Science degree candidates. One second.
KEVIN HARRIS: [READING NAMES]
Dean Colvin, this concludes the presentation of the class of 2023 undergraduate degree candidates.
Congratulations, again, to all the degree candidates. This concludes the ILR School's 77th Commencement Recognition Ceremony. We ask that you remain seated, guests, as faculty, staff, and students recess from the area and move into the reception area. We encourage all of you to join your students at the ILR reception, as well as the rest of us, which will begin momentarily on the other side of the curtain. Congratulations to the class of 2023.
CHORUS: (SINGING) Strike the song to Cornell and let the swelling chorus rise before us. Strike the song to Cornell.
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