Photo by Matt Cashore ’94
As we reach the end of the semester, this is typically a time of reflection. While we prepare for commencement ceremonies, we often look back on our accomplishments and anticipate new opportunities to come next year. Of course, things are different today. On campus, we have been rescheduling, retooling, readjusting for an unforeseen pause in our activities. While it would be inappropriate to complain about the state of things, we also don’t want to offer a naively optimistic view of what’s to come. This is where our students can provide a much-needed source of inspiration, especially the class of 2020.
The collective classes of 2020 — whether moving on from middle school, finishing the final year of high school, concluding undergraduate studies or completing a graduate program — will be remembered for many years to come because of what they have been asked to do without these past few weeks. I have lost count of the conversations I have had in which friends and colleagues have expressed their sympathy toward this cohort and mourn the loss of ritual we associate with this season. It’s also important to recognize the parents and family members, many of whom have made great sacrifices for their children to have the opportunities that an education provides as well as the educators who have worked diligently to help these students advance to the next stage in their lives.
Commencements come at the end of a learning cycle but the term can also refer to a new beginning. The members of the class of 2020 will face daunting challenges but they may also be part of an effort that will literally change the world, whether it is reclaiming and reasserting the values of scientific inquiry and exploration or prioritizing collective needs over individual achievement. I believe that we will become a better society led by those who have come to truly appreciate what we have had to give up during this period of loss and dedicate themselves to healing, recovery, and eventually progress.
At DPAC, we thrive on our sense of community. I value the connectedness that is inherent in our campus, our city, and our surrounding areas. What we have witnessed over the last several weeks has been nothing short of extraordinary. People have come together for the greater good by staying home. I know that this has been particularly hard on the members of the class of 2020 who, by making this commitment, have forgone the rituals that are necessary to move to the next steps in their lives. On behalf of all of us at DPAC, I salute the remarkable class of 2020 and look forward to the many gifts you will bring to this world.
Ted Barron is executive director of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and Judd and Mary Lou Leighton Director of the Performing Arts. Barron previously served as senior associate director overseeing the center’s cinema program during which time he led visits to Notre Dame by renowned filmmakers such as Claire Denis, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Larry Karaszewski, Margarethe von Trotta, Benny Safdie, Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez.
Barron also teaches courses on global cinema history, documentary film and German film in Notre Dame’s Department of Film, Television, and Theatre. Read more