SPS Celebrates 2015 Graduates
On Friday, June 19, a crowd of professionals in purple graduation gowns gathered in front of the famed Chicago Theatre in downtown Chicago to celebrate the culmination of their education at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies (SPS). It was SPS’s first convocation ceremony as the School of Professional Studies (renamed from the School of Continuing Studies last fall), and for the first time in the school’s history convocation was held in downtown Chicago, with all SPS students receiving their degrees together. (Previous convocations divided graduates into two back-to-back ceremonies at Evanston’s Alice Millar Chapel, a dazzling contemporary Gothic chapel the school finally outgrew this year, with its largest graduating class ever.)
After the graduates streamed into the auditorium and took their seats in the middle of the iconic space, SPS Dean Thomas Gibbons and keynote speaker David J.P. Fisher (BA ’98) delivered addresses. Dean Gibbons spoke of the powerful and lasting effect learning can have on life; Fisher, founder of RockStar Consulting, heralded the value of learning from failures on the road to success. After each student received their degree, a bagpiper led graduates and faculty on a procession out onto the streets of Chicago and the next chapter in their lives.
The 2015 graduates are a remarkably diverse class — SPS offers degree programs in everything from creative writing to predictive analytics to sports administration, and its primary mission is to make education accessible to working adults via evening, part-time and online courses. In the audience at the 2015 convocation poets sat next to data managers, and information technologists next to high school teachers. Despite their differing passions, hometowns or career paths, the graduates of the SPS class of 2015 will be forever connected as Northwestern alumni and lifelong learners. “A life filled with learning is a life that keeps expanding,” said Dean Gibbons in his address, “It keeps exploring and keeps engaging in self-reflection and personal growth.”