For Carl Gutiérrez-Jones this year’s commencement has a special meaning. As the campus’s acting dean of undergraduate education, he becomes the new “voice of commencement,” opening and closing four of the five undergraduate ceremonies that take place over commencement weekend. For the students in those ceremonies, his is the first — and last — official UCSB voice they’ll hear.
It is quite an honor.
“Our commencement ceremonies include many different voices, and I think that’s one of the striking things about them,” said Gutiérrez-Jones, who is also a professor and former chair of UCSB’s Department of English. “Many different people are eager to congratulate the students as they walk across the stage and to welcome them on their way. I feel very honored to bookend that for each of the five undergraduate ceremonies.”
Gutiérrez-Jones noted how moved he is to see families coming together in celebration of the graduates, and to watch the students with whom he has worked take that big step toward the next chapter in their lives. “I remember being at the Guardian Scholars dinner last December and hearing one of the students speaking about how much he looked forward to crossing the stage and shaking Chancellor Yang’s hand,” he said. “It was very meaningful.”
Acknowledging the accomplishments of all the graduates, Gutierriéz-Jones said, “These are really wonderfully rounded students. They’ve been involved in volunteer work and research and community service here on campus. We have really caring students, and it confirms what I’ve been hearing from parents, which is that UCSB stands apart from other universities for its sense of community and the way people here look out for each other.
“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to make sure that individual students know we honor them and we feel as though we are part of a family,” he continued. “And I’m delighted to see that reflected in the way our ceremonies unfold.”