Perseverance, Resiliency, and the Emerson Spirit 

William Gilligan headshot

On May 8, I will have the honor of a lifetime—to preside over Emerson’s Commencement ceremony as president of this amazing College. 

I have attended Commencement more times than I can recall—first as an assistant professor in the 1980s and later as vice president for information technology. But no matter my role at the College, Commencement has always served as an important reminder: this is why I do what I do. Supporting our students and contributing to an environment where all students can thrive gives me great joy and hope for our future. 

This year, as I conclude my first as interim president and as we emerge from this pandemic, I am feeling more hopeful about our future than ever before. I have witnessed firsthand the unbelievable creativity and perseverance of the members of our graduating Class of 2022. They completed their coursework and all of their projects, successfully navigating the rigors of an Emerson education. And they did it all during a pandemic.  

To say these Emersonians know how to roll with the punches is an understatement.  

The last two years have brought political and economic turmoil, community divisiveness, and heightened awareness of racial inequities. But the last two years have also brought examples of incredible generosity, ingenuity, and have highlighted common goals that resonated widely and sparked true change.  

The discord we have witnessed may remain in the near term, but Emersonians are our best chance for bridging this divide by bringing people together around shared commonalities, and ultimately righting our course. 

That’s because our students learned to find new ways to succeed, even when—or, especially when—the barriers were significant. They learned the importance of self-care as well as tending to the needs of their community. And they learned how to tap into their creativity to make positive change.  

As our graduating students go off into the world and make their own way, I know these experiences will serve them well. Emersonians are and have always been creative, resilient, tenacious, and persevering—traits that are more important than ever before.  

Congratulations to the Class of 2022! 

William P. Gilligan 

Interim President