President James Smith, faculty members help honor graduates from Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development Program in Tianjin, China

Virtual graduation ceremony features addresses from faculty members from both universities in the partnership as students savor their accomplishment and eye a bright professional future

A group of graduates at Tianjin University
President Smith, shown here at Tianjin University in China at a previous commencement, addressed the most recent graduates of the Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development program via video at their virtual ceremony.

YPSILANTI – The graduation ceremony was conducted remotely, but the feelings of pride and accomplishment shone vividly as Eastern Michigan University faculty and administrative leaders helped to honor 31 graduates from the Master of Science in Human Resources and Organizational Development program in Tianjin, China.

The virtual commencement ceremony marked a marvelous milestone for students in the program, a partnership between the Tianjin University of Commerce and Eastern.

Molding leaders in the profession

EMU President James Smith addressed the graduates, as did faculty members from both schools, including Eastern’s Fraya Wagner-Marsh, Alankrita Pandey, Stephanie Newell, Linda Isenhour, Eric Schulz and Jean McEnery. 

“By completing this master’s degree with EMU and the Tianjin University of Commerce, you have distinguished yourself as a leader in the human resource and organizational development field,” President Smith told the graduates. “This degree will be a powerful part of your future for many years to come. …

“We, as faculty and administrative leaders at Eastern Michigan University, are proud of you. You should be extremely proud of this accomplishment as well. Please know you’re always welcome on our beautiful campus here in Ypsilanti. And, of course, you’re welcome in the great state of Michigan to visit at any time too.”

President Smith ended his address with well wishes in Chinese, asserting, “Gōng xǐ,” and “xie xie,” that is, “Congratulations and thank you.”

A special part of the future of China

Fraya Wagner-Marsh, a professor of management and EMU director of the program, taught the initial course for the students and the final capstone course.

“I have seen you grow not only as students but also as individuals,” Wagner-Marsh said in her address to the graduates. “I’ve seen you work very hard at your studies. I have seen you learn how to work together as a team … It has been a joy to be your teacher, and it will be something that I will remember for the rest of my life.”

“I know all of you will be a success in your personal lives as well as in your careers. Your new roles as managers and professionals are important ones. You are the future of China, and I wish you much success. I will cherish my memories of you as students, but I also am proud to welcome you as Eastern Michigan University alumni.”

An all-nighter and a sense of achievement

Student Li Ye spoke of the special nature of this year and how students and faculty overcame the stresses and distinct challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. She recalled working with EMU faculty to revise a paper throughout the night, finishing it at dawn.

“However, the hard work at night and the busy day made me happy and enhanced my sense of achievement,” she said.

Kenneth Lord, dean of the EMU College of Business, praised Wagner-Marsh’s leadership in the collaboration. 

“The program that Fraya and her colleagues have built has transformed the lives of many students, who have gone on to contribute mightily in their professional roles,” Lord said. “Fraya has played a large role in establishing Eastern's gleaming reputation in that country and in this particular discipline.”

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

July 22, 2020

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom