Class of 2020 Celebration: Congratulations from leadership

Graduation Accolades from RLL's Department Chair and Directors of Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

Amy C. Graves Monroe.

Amy C. Graves Monroe
Associate Professor of French

In the early modern period, to be born at the time of a cataclysmic event was seen as a prodigious sign of future greatness. This surely must be true of the class of 2020. It is bittersweet to watch you take your degree and embark on the next phase of your life, your education, your career. I believe that your future holds as much promise as you did when you first came to UB and when joined our department family. You will continue to amaze us with your ability to grow, learn, and be a force for positive change and mutual understanding in our world. Please send back word of your adventures to those who have not forgotten that you once walked the halls of Clemens on snowy days. Among these pages I see so many faces and names that make me smile with pride, and that remind me of all your accomplishments. You have each distinguished yourselves, so I find it fitting to share some snapshots and reflections of your achievements with the rest of your classmates. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.


Maureen Jameson.

Maureen Jameson
Associate of French
Director of Undergraduate Studies

The president of the International Rescue Committee, David Miliband, was recently asked by journalist Dahlia Lithwick to say what gave him hope during these grim times.  In reply, he shared the experience of a film crew visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you look at the statistics, said the crew, you feel depressed, but if you look at the people, you feel hope. Miliband added, "So people say to me, 'You're carrying the IRC forward,' and I answer no, they​'re carrying me forward." 

 When the campus was evacuated at midterm, classes had to be rushed online, requirements revised, technologies integrated. Gone was the blissful ignorance of our on-screen appearance, gone the ability to anticipate your questions in your eyes. Gone most of all the energy of our shared presence in the room. Distance was a given, but would there be learning? Would we fail our courses and let you down?

UB staff worked tirelessly to help us adapt and to buoy our spirits. Lecturers and graduate student TAs poured heart and soul into preparation. And when classes resumed, there you were; you showed up. You, the class of 2020. You smiled back. You forgave​ our stumbles. You prioritized your studies, despite the crisis all around. You hoped for the best, and believed in yourselves and in each other. 

Generic conventions of the commencement greeting dictate that it conclude with inspiring wisdom to motivate graduates to go forward and do good. Allow me instead to commemorate the good you have already done, because there is no more urgent lesson from these times. As David Miliband put it, "While the people that we serve have got courage, resilience, humor, ambition, and hope, what right have we got to give up?"


Paola Ugolini Associate Professor of Italian Director of Graduate Studies.

Paola Ugolini
Associate Professor of Italian
Director of Graduate Studies

First of all, let me congratulate you for reaching this milestone -- a well-deserved end to years of hard work and dedication! Many faculty members in the department had the pleasure of having you in class; but even those who didn't, loved the enthusiasm and the energy that you brought to the department. In these unprecedented circumstances, my colleagues and I are particularly grateful for your efforts to keep your classes running despite everything; and we were particularly sad to see that the graduate student conference, that is always a great success, had to be cancelled. We congratulate you once again, and wish you all the best in your future.