School of Public Policy

Watch the University of Maryland School of Public Policy's virtual commencement ceremony celebrating our spring 2021 graduates! #UMDgrad

Robert C. Orr

Dear SPP Graduates:

We all dream of less fraught times – when we can learn, work, interact, socialize, and graduate(!) together again. At the same time, one of the strongest relationships that I have witnessed and experienced throughout my life is that between adversity and leadership. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that leadership is most often born in, and of, adversity. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t hear Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.’s prophetic words in my head: “The ultimate measure of a person is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where they stand at times of challenge and controversy.” Well, my friends, I have seen where you stand!

There is no higher calling, no more noble endeavor than public service.  I am very excited about the challenges, the opportunities, and the success that I know lie ahead for our graduates. That is not to say that it will come easy. You enter a world, and a field of public policy, quite different from the one you entered when you walked through our doors for the first time. Many of you are supporting family members who are sick, or unemployed, or directly challenged by the myriad disruptions of the twin pandemics – COVID19 and racial injustice. But even so, you have completed your studies, pursued a job search, and supported others from across the country and even the world while navigating the challenges of a virtual environment. I could not think of a better example of real leadership.

I hope you will all be able to look back at your time with us at the School of Public Policy fondly. Please know that you will always be welcome back to our halls, our community, and our family.

Indeed, when physical presence becomes possible once again, I not only invite you to return, I call on you to return. Come see your instructors, staff, and former classmates...and the dean.

Today is your day. I want to celebrate all of you, the graduates of 2021. You are not only becoming the leaders we need, you already are. Thank you for your inspiration in these challenging times.
Go forth into the world knowing you not only have our support, but also our deep respect, and love.
Congratulations Class of 2021!
All the very best,

Robert C. Orr, Dean
School of Public Policy
University of Maryland

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