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Commencement Speaker Carrie Morgridge Leaves 2023 Graduates With Message of ‘Common Sense’

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Emma Atkinson

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A row of graduates look to the stage at DU's 2023 spring commencement.

“If you acquire an education, you have it forever. This is the gift of higher education.”

Those are the words that University of Denver Chancellor Jeremy Haefner asked students to reflect on at the spring 2023 graduate commencement ceremony on June 9. On the warm, sunny Friday in Denver, more than 500 graduate and doctoral students gathered in Magness Arena to celebrate the conferring of their degrees. In total, more than 2,400 graduate and doctoral students will receive their degrees this spring.

The message of gifts and giving continued throughout the day, as the University awarded philanthropist Carrie Morgridge an honorary Doctorate of Education as the ceremony’s commencement speaker. As well as serving on DU’s Board of Trustees for more than 10 years and heading up the Morgridge Family Foundation, Morgridge and her husband John are the benefactors of the Morgridge College of Education.

“And that’s just the beginning of Carrie’s impact,” Haefner says. “[It’s] hard to overstate. Her drive, generosity and vision are truly inspiring, and I’m thrilled she is here to celebrate you all—the next generation of DU alumni committed to serving the public good.”

Morgridge began her remarks with a nod to the family, friends and loved ones of graduates who have supported them throughout their academic and professional journeys at DU.

“There is so much to celebrate—not only today, but for a lifetime,” she says. “As you celebrate the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, your graduation from the University of Denver represents a significant milestone, and you should be proud of the achievements that have brought you here today.”

Morgridge touched on the impact of DU’s 4D Experience and its importance to the University’s vision for the future. She also acknowledged and outlined the four dimensions of DU’s holistic approach to education: Intellectual growth, purpose, well-being and character.

“We all know DU is well known for being a ‘private institution dedicated to the public good.’ That’s probably what brought you to this great university,” she says. “Your DU graduate degree is a sign that you have not only invested in your future, you also obtained your advanced degree from an institution that is truly leading the way.”

After a year of success, she saluted the accomplishments of DU’s graduate student-athletes, lauding the exploits of DU’s women’s gymnastics, men’s hockey, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s skiing and men’s soccer teams. Morgridge cheered and whooped as she named the leaders from each team who were graduating.

And Morgridge couldn’t continue with her speech without a special mention of the graduates from the Morgridge College of Education, she says.

“The Morgridge College of Ed is training teachers for tomorrow, school leaders, counselors, school psychologists, researchers and information scientists—all to help accelerate access to GREAT education and mental health services in Colorado and beyond,” she says, smiling. “I’m like a proud mama bear.”

Morgridge’s remarks continued with an ode to common sense, something that she said “often comes in handy” for her and her team at the Morgridge Family Foundation.

“I seem to use common sense on a daily basis—the same way I use my ChatGPT,” she says, laughing. “So, I hope these iconic phrases are helpful for you too. Not just for today, but for a lifetime.”

Then began declarations of call-and-response, with Morgridge asking the audience to finish a series of well-known common sense phrases.

“Actions speak louder than…” she paused.

“Words!” the crowd responded.

“If it ain’t broke…don’t fix it!”

“Don’t put all your eggs…in one basket!”

“The early bird…catches the worm!”

Morgridge closed her remarks with a quote famously attributed to President Abraham Lincoln.

“You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time,” she says.

Morgridge encouraged the graduates to think about their own common-sense values as they carried their DU degrees and experiences into the world.

“In conclusion, let us always remember the importance of common sense in our daily lives,” she says. “It is not just a simple concept, but a guiding principle that can help us make better decisions and navigate through life’s challenges.”

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