CROOKSTON, Minn. - This is the week at UMN Crookston, one many have been awaiting as students are wrapping up final projects and presentations and taking final exams. Some will be concluding the week with commencement. 
Spring is my favorite season, and over the years I have been told this is the best time of the year at UMN Crookston as we get to witness students achieve their degree and walk through graduation. While Spring is still my favorite, this year is different as it is for many; but for me, after 20 years at UMN Crookston and two decades’ worth of commencement ceremonies, we are celebrating Commencement at UMN Duluth too! Yes, it is the “best” time, you see, as our oldest son is capturing his undergraduate degree in communications and marketing. 

While I continue to be a proponent of lifelong learning, this time around is like no other. Years ago my Mom encouraged me to get my degree and continue learning. “It is the one thing that can’t be taken away once it is earned, invest in yourself,” she said. 

It was wise advice then and it remains just as wise today. Whether you are completing a degree, earning a certificate or are gainfully employed, there is no better time than the present to continue on your education journey. And what better time to grant your Mother a gift than graduation on the weekend of Mother’s Day. Thanks Mom. Congratulations, Ethan! 

For UMN Crookston, this week the campus will be home to more energy than it has had all year, as we welcome more than 180 graduates and families back to campus for commencement. In order to abide by COVID-19 protocols, we are hosting two separate, in-person ceremonies, by invitation only. If you would like to watch these via livestream, they have been split by academic divisions and are slated for 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 8:

  • Business and Humanities, Social Sciences, and Education at 10 a.m.
  • Math, Science & Technology and Agriculture and Natural Resources at 2 p.m.

Much work will continue after graduation, research will ramp up, and strategic planning continues to evolve as we work to meet the University’s ever-changing needs and the needs of who we serve, including but not limited to workforce, budgets, and flexible teaching modalities. Under the leadership of Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause, UMN Crookston shifted from a broad and academic process-oriented planning approach to one centered in action and results under the theme of “Focus and Finish.” During the past four years, strategic priorities were honed from seven to three with greater attention to goals, metrics, and implementation. 

UMN Crookston’s current strategic plan focuses on three priorities:

  • Campus enrollment growth and greater retention
  • Diversity, equity, and belonging
  • Golden Eagle pride, relationships, and engagement

In June we are planning to host in-person events on campus once again. Health and safety protocols will be in place, but it is another step forward. Consider walking our gardens and exploring our beautiful campus, and touch base if you have an event that you would like to host in one of our state-of-the-art facilities or even outside in our meeting spaces, such as the Harris A. Peterson Gazebo, June Shaver Butterfly Garden, Allen and Freda Pederson Community Garden, or even the Peterson lecture hall in Heritage Hall.

Our students, faculty and staff will be back on campus this fall, and I look forward to the many community opportunities for student engagement with Crookston and the surrounding area. 

But until then, congratulations and hats off to all our students and graduates! Whether you’re earning a diploma, a program certificate, a degree or even a cool new professional title, your hard work deserves attention, thoughtful words of recognition and encouragement. Way to go!

Photo of Michelle Christopherson

Story Contact: Shawn Smith