This week, our community came together to honor our 2019 Ph.D., EMPA, and MPA graduates in a ceremony that celebrated the culmination of many years of work and unrelenting dedication in pursuit of graduate degrees in public administration. In a way, I also feel like I am graduating. This represented my 16th and final graduation ceremony, as later this summer I will retire as Dean of the Evans School.

I would like to offer my sincere thanks to our graduates’ families and friends, our Evans School faculty, our committed staff, and our distinguished guests –including our 2019 Convocation guest speaker, Washington State Representative, Evans School Advisory Board Member, and 2005 EMPA alum the Honorable Dr. Vandana Slatter.

I would also like to extend my gratitude to our Advisory Board, Honorary Advisory Board, and University of Washington Regents Dr. Constance Rice and Blaine Tamaki for celebrating with us.  And thank you to Former First Lady Nancy Bell Evans and Former Governor and our School’s namesake, the Honorable Daniel J. Evans for their attendance and unwavering support of our school.

It is because of our Evans School community – our faculty, staff, students, and supporters – that this year, we were recognized as one of the top five public affairs graduate programs in the nation.

What this means to you, graduates, is that you leave here with a highly valuable – and highly valued – degree that will open doors to many influential professional opportunities, and I know will lead to careers with immense individual and collective impact.

I am confident you will take your values and your passion for change with you across this state and across the globe. We will be eagerly watching you and your careers thrive.

If there is just one thing you take away from your time at the Evans School,  let it be that every single one of you is a leader.  You came with a calling to be a leader, and you have gained the skills, developed the academic technical tools, and adopted the mindset —to lead, wherever you are. 

This year, your class has shown us that leadership is about diving into difficult social problems, and it is about collaborating to accomplish your goals.  Now take that lesson with you as you embark on the next stage of your careers.     

I am proud of all of you. 

My hope for each of you – on joyous occasions like this, and as you go forward into your futures – is that you recognize the community and the great legacy that you are joining. You do not take this next step into public leadership and management alone. 

In addition to the support of your teachers and classmates, as you walk across this stage today you join nearly 5,000 members of the Evans School alumni community.  Our alumni, like you, are passionate about improving their communities.  You are now part of our proud legacy and this powerful network.

Former Governor Dan Evans, once said:

“The leaders of tomorrow will be those who have the vision to see tomorrow, the intelligence to plan wisely, and the civility to listen to others.”

Graduates, you are those leaders. Congratulations.