Most commencement speakers share great advice. But, Maurice C. Taylor ’72, Ph.D., the speaker for Juniata’s 2018 commencement, didn’t stop there. Taylor paid it forward, literally. A vice president for academic outreach and engagement at Morgan State University, Taylor’s speech focused, from the perspective of an alumnus, on the lifelong pursuit of Juniata graduates “to chase our best selves.” During his speech, Taylor announced that he would endow a lectureship series on social justice to put his words into action.
The Dr. Maurice C. Taylor ’72 Lectureship on Social Justice will provide funding to support an annual public lecture on a topic related to social justice. The speaker, whose professional and/or personal life has contributed to an understanding of and/or progress in ameliorating an area of social justice, shall also engage with the Juniata community of faculty, staff, students, and invitees.
Taylor’s speech—and gesture—spoke volumes to the 369 students who graduated from Juniata on May 19, 2018.
“We, the sons and daughters of Juniata College, are in a lifelong pursuit of our best selves,” Taylor said. “We are challenged to confront our blind spots. We are compelled to do great, small things in pursuit of justice, not because we are male or female, black or white, liberal or conservative, but because we graduated from Juniata College and it’s in our DNA.”
Maurice Taylor ’72 delivers his commencement speech to Juniata graduates, encouraging them to pursue their best selves after graduation.Photo by J.D. Cavrich
Taylor’s words and deeds were also a great example of a public speaking tenet of the ages: know your audience. Like Taylor, the graduating class used their class gift to express that they, too, valued the importance of continued learning.
Nearly 75 percent of the Juniata Class of 2018 contributed close to $48,000 to its class gift, an experimental classroom in the new Learning Commons in the soon-to-be renovated Beeghly Library. More than a space for lectures, the classroom will enable faculty to model different learning techniques and arrangements, encouraging students to collaborate on projects, pursue innovation, and challenge their conceptions. Characterized by its flexibility, the classroom will “spark a spirit of inquiry,” says Juniata Provost Lauren Bowen.
Doug ’89 and Sue Ellen Spotts donated an additional $75,000 to enhance the project.
From the commencement speaker, the class itself, and faculty, family, and friends in attendance, it was plain to see that Juniata’s 140th commencement was about working together to ensure each Juniata graduate steps forward in the best way possible, laying a foundation for future growth, which, it could be said, is the very purpose of graduation, and higher education, every day.