Published: May 12, 2017
Blue skies and full stands at Folsom during spring commencement

Today, under sparkling bluebird skies, the University of Colorado Boulder welcomed the class of 2017 into the Forever Buffs family. The spring commencement ceremony honored more than 6,400 candidates for degrees and featured commencement speaker and alumna Kate Fagan.

Defusing the gravity of the moment, Fagan joked with the crowd that her recollections of the speaker at her own commencement were hazy.  

"So, I’m telling myself this is all reward and no risk," she joked. 

Fagan went on to challenge the graduates to focus on the moments ahead and not get lost in the anticipation of other people's reactions. 

"But seriously: Check in with yourself, frequently, to make sure you're waking up for your actual life, and not just because you're addicted to the side effects—the money, or prestige, or social status—that it provides. This is not easy. Nor am I particularly good at it. I’m just suggesting you should be aware." 

Chancellor DiStefano also encouraged the graduates to be engaged and adaptable when he addressed the crowd. 

"The pace of change is exceeding society’s capacity to adapt," DiStefano said. "The future is challenging." 

He assured the assembled students the skills they had learned during their time on campus—critical thinking, civil discourse, collaborative decision making and creative solutions—would serve them well in this high state of change. 

The ceremony reached its penultimate moment as James Williams, dean of the University Libraries and the "voice of commencement" for nearly 30 years, read The Norlin Charge to the graduates. The traditional words, penned by the revered university president whose name graces the building where Williams has served his university tenure, welcomed the students into the company of scholars. 

"The university is not the campus, not the buildings on the campus, not the faculties, not the students of any one time—not one of these or all of them. The university consists of all who come into and go forth from her halls, who are touched by her influence and who carry on her spirit. Wherever you go, the university goes with you. Wherever you are at work, there is the university at work."

Today's ceremony is Williams' last before he retires on June 30, and the words were especially evocative as many in the crowd reflected on his service to the university and his leadership of this hallowed tradition. 

Department, college and school recognition ceremonies continue through Saturday, May 13. A full schedule of commencement-related activities can be found on the Commencement website.