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Time to Celebrate

Each year, several thousand students become graduates of the University of Lincoln at our spectacular graduation ceremonies, held in the magnificent Lincoln Cathedral. The ceremonies are the most important events in the calendar, marking the culmination of many years of hard work and dedication from our students, and giving family, friends, and staff at the University the opportunity to congratulate our new graduates and celebrate their achievements.

When you graduate from the University of Lincoln you will become part of our global alumni community, which is made up of more than 95,000 graduates from across 135 countries. As a graduate of the University, you can access a wide range of benefits and services wherever you are in the world.


Graduation Speech from University of Lincoln Vice Chancellor, Professor Neal Juster

Graduands, families, supporters, colleagues, friends; may I welcome you most warmly to this historic city, to this grand cathedral, and to this very special celebration.

It’s no exaggeration to say that, for my colleagues and me, there’s no more significant nor more proud an occasion in our calendar than a graduation ceremony – because it’s the culmination of everything we have set out to do as educators, and everything that you have worked so hard to achieve as our students.

Graduands, the hard work required to gain your degree ended long ago. In fact, the gap between your exams and graduation is longer than usual for reasons we are all too aware of. Reasons that not only delayed this ceremony but meant that the experience of your final months at the University were very different than you originally anticipated.  

The memories of being in lectures, tutorials, libraries, and of learning online may have dimmed. You may find it hard to recall the assessments we set and you passed. What I hope you can remember clearly is the support you were given by your family, friends, and university staff. Support that has enabled you to be sitting here today.

Today is one of the milestones in your life. It’s an event that gives you a chance to reflect on and celebrate your educational achievements to date and the award of a degree in particular.

So take the time to soak up the experience here in the Cathedral, catch up with your friends and classmates in the Castle grounds afterwards and then celebrate with your supporters. Enjoy the rest of the day – you have deserved it!

Friends, family, colleagues, on behalf of the University, can I extend my thanks and gratitude for all the invaluable support you’ve given our students over the course of their study – you absolutely share in the successes we celebrate today. You have been there with them every step of the way; applauding the highs and commiserating the lows. I am personally extremely grateful.

And graduands, will you now join me and take this opportunity to publically express your thanks to all of those who have helped you along the way? Thank you.

Graduands, many of you will have already begun in employment or resumed further study. Some of you have a clear vision of where you want to go, what you want to achieve and have the ambition to get there. However, I suspect that many more of you are trying to work out what you want to accomplish. That is only natural as you move into an uncertain world outside of the University.

Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, once said: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

So what should you trust in as you go about creating the dots, that will connect one day? I would argue you have to trust in something more specific than your gut, destiny, life, or karma listed by Steve Jobs – I say you need to decide your purpose – your cause – your why. If you have a clear purpose then the dots will connect. Maybe not in any way you can envisage today, but connect they will.

I believe that the history of the University of Lincoln shows what can be done when you follow a clear purpose. We can look back and see how we have created a set of dots that now join to reveal a clear picture of what we have achieved.

We were founded to help sustain and grow an economically successful, socially coherent, and culturally vibrant city and region. Our purpose was, and remains, to transform the lives of people and communities that surround us. We have stayed true to this purpose since we started in Lincoln with one building and a few hundred students 25 years ago.

We have remained faithful to this purpose over the past 25 years and are more committed than ever now that we have nearly 20 thousand students; campuses in Lincoln, Riseholme and Holbeach; are engaged with many other towns across the county; and are generating more than £400 million a year for the economy.

I don’t have time to plot all the dots. However, the dots include recruiting good staff, expanding our original campus, growing the range of courses we offer, recruiting more postgraduate and international students, and building, in partnership, a Science and Innovation Park. Each dot created taking advantage of the political and funding environment at the time but always plotted with our purpose in mind.

These dots now combine to produce a picture that includes graduating over 3,500 skilled graduates like you every year, creating new businesses, generating new jobs, transferring knowledge to improve the productivity of major industries, moving organisations towards being net zero, producing cultural output, and raising the level of ambition in local school children through our multi-academy trust. 

You can see that by remaining true to our purpose of making people’s lives better we have been able to achieve great things. I would therefore challenge you, our graduands, to think what your purpose is, or should be.

It matters rather less what your purpose is than that you have one. Ideally it should be aligned to your passions in life. When your passion and purpose are aligned you will find that it seems easy to find the energy to achieve your ambitions.

Do you want to create more sustainable products or services, computer games that entertain, design buildings that are more accessible, help people to live longer and more healthily, or even produce a better mousetrap? Or something else?

Every opportunity that comes your way you should ask: Does this help or hinder my purpose – and then use the answer to determine whether you grasp that opportunity or let it pass.

You should have the confidence to know you will ultimately be successful because you have a toolset that can help you pursue your purpose. A set of tools built up over the course of your educational journey and sharpened in your time with us here at Lincoln: the ability to think critically; to marshal evidence and examine it from multiple viewpoints; and then to use the evidence and your judgement to make the most appropriate decision. You have learnt to work in teams comprised of members with different backgrounds from your own, listening to them and understanding their point of view and then working together to deliver the best possible outcome for the project at hand.  

Graduands, it’s been our great pleasure, and indeed, our enormous privilege, to watch each and every one of you develop and grow in your time here with us. Please accept my warmest congratulations on your success we are celebrating today.

With the skills and talents you have at your disposal, you have the potential to follow your purpose. Start creating those dots that I know will someday join to reveal a fantastic picture. A picture that will show that you were able to do something new, to do something different – to do something that made you happy and the world a better place.

Professor Neal Juster BSc PhD CEng FIMechE

April/May 2022

After Graduation

Following graduation we hope you will continue to stay in touch through our Alumni community.

Being part of the Lincoln Alumni Network is about staying connected with friends, opportunities, and with what’s going on at the University. It is also about looking to the future – and working in partnership for the benefit of our students and the wider community.

Once you have registered, you will be able to:

  • Check and update your details
  • Network with other University of Lincoln graduates
  • Receive exclusive invitations to events and receptions
  • Access a range of benefits and services
  • Learn about scholarships for postgraduate study.

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