The Neag School of Education’s Class of 2018 graduates and their guests joined faculty, staff, and administrators this past weekend in celebration of Commencement Weekend on the UConn Storrs campus.
The weekend kicked off on Saturday, May 5, with a celebratory reception honoring Neag School master’s and sixth-year graduates, hosted on the Student Union patio prior to their Commencement ceremony at Gampel Pavilion. Check out photos from the Neag School master’s and sixth-year reception.
On Sunday, May 6, UConn huskies Jonathans XIII and XIV joined the 150 Neag School undergraduate students in their processional to the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. At the Undergraduate Commencement ceremony, a group of elementary school students from Neag School partner Southeast Elementary in Mansfield, Conn., performed the national anthem. Later in the program, they were joined by the Neag School’s Class of 2018 music education majors, who performed a special tribute song dedicated to the late Ray Neag, the benefactor after whom the Neag School is named. Neag, a UConn alum from the Class of 1956, passed away at age 86 this past month.
Special education advocate and UConn Law alum Howard Klebanoff ’62 JD delivered the keynote address. Klebanoff, known as one of Connecticut’s most distinguished attorneys specializing in special education law, spent more than 40 years representing families of children with special needs before retiring from active practice in 2017.
“As you pursue your career, remember to seek solutions,” Klebanoff told to the Class of 2018. “Do not forget the importance of the synergistic relationships you can have with your colleagues, which often lead to important help and resources. Remember that learning never stops. Remember to disregard the naysayers, who say, ‘You can’t.’”
Klebanoff is also known at UConn for the Klebanoff Institute, which was established in 1997 in honor of his work in special education. The Institute’s mission is to improve the quality of educational and other services to children and adults with disabilities and their families by conducting research, disseminating information, and directing training activities aimed at overcoming legal, ethical, and systemic impediments to such services.
Sport management alumna Nellie Schafer ’16 MS, now director of basketball operations for women’s basketball at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., returned to campus to share with the Class of 2018 18 pieces of advice for their lives after graduation.
Among her words of wisdom, Schafer advised graduates to travel, to embrace diversity, to use podcasts as a way to learn about their profession, and not to fear failure. “Say ‘yes,’” she said. “Saying ‘yes’ starts things. Saying ‘yes’ is how we grow. Saying ‘yes’ fuels knowledge.”
In addition, the ceremony featured a special celebratory tribute to Ray Neag. Richard L. Schwab, former dean of the Neag School and Neag Endowed Professor of Educational Leadership, honored Neag’s memory by sharing with the audience remarks about Ray and his wife, Carole, with whom Schwab became close over the past two decades. Schwab spoke about the Neags’ legacy, including their extraordinary support of the Neag School of Education, which is named in their honor.
“Ray was a visionary and highly intelligent in many common-sense ways,” said Schwab as a slideshow of images featuring Ray and Carole Neag were displayed behind him on the stage. “While the consummate nice guy, he was also a competitor and believed in doing one’s best. When he invested in the Neag School, he was investing in our vision to become one of the top ranked schools in the nation. He saw education as the key to a just and vibrant America.”
The Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony also showcased two videos — the first featuring alumni, students, and faculty from across the Neag School— and a second videotoward the end of the ceremony in which graduating seniors gave a glimpse into the activities and experiences they found most rewarding during their time at UConn.
Access archived video of each ceremony at s.uconn.edu/neagstream.