GRAND FORKS - Telling student to embrace, not fear, technology, University of North Dakota President Mark Kennedy addressed graduates Saturday, May 13, at Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
More than 1,800 UND students were eligible to participate in commencement ceremonies Saturday.
For the first time, UND added a commencement ceremony, held in the morning, for more than 500 students who earned graduate degrees.
A commencement ceremony for about 1,330 undergraduate students, who have earned baccalaureate degrees, was held in the afternoon.
At both ceremonies, Nick Hacker of Bismarck, a UND alumnus and member of the State Board of Higher Education, delivered greetings from that body.
Saturday's ceremonies were the first UND spring commencements to be presided over by Kennedy, who took over the leadership position from Interim President Edward Schafer last summer.
In his message to the graduates, Kennedy encouraged them to embrace the opportunities presented by technology and not let uncertainty about the future deter them from pursuing their dreams.
"Many worry evermore capable computers will make humans obsolete," he said. "But computers will never be truly creative (and) entrepreneurial" in the way humans can.
"We're in a race with machines, not against machines."
In addition to the "hard skills" needed to leverage technology to achieve their goals, he urged them to develop "soft skills," such as the capacity to form ideas and effectively communicate.
He reminded graduates, and the audience, of the message "another President Kennedy, President John F. Kennedy" delivered on a visit to UND in 1963.
"He said this university was founded not for students' economic advantage, but to graduate men and women to bear the burden of citizenship."
The exact number of graduates who accepted their diplomas at Saturday's ceremonies is not yet available, a UND spokesman said.
The number of students eligible to participate in commencement includes those who earned their degrees through online study and chose not to travel to Grand Forks for the ceremony.
A live video stream of the commencement ceremonies was available for those unable to attend.
An archive video of the commencement ceremonies will be available by Wednesday, according to a UND news release. The videos are downloadable through these links: graduate ceremony https://vimeo.com/213580685 and undergraduate ceremony https://vimeo.com/213581272.
The UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences commencement ceremony is set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday at the Chester Fritz Auditorium.
The UND School of Law commencement was May 6.