Friday, June 4, 2021

Virtual Graduation Message for 2021 OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduates

I never imagined before 2020 that I would ever take part in a virtual graduation ceremony as I did in 2020, and now it is hard to believe that I am doing the same in 2021. As I noted last year, one of my favorite activities of the academic year is the Convocation and Hooding Ceremony, where we honor graduates of Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), including those graduating from the OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program. Despite the pandemic over the last year and a quarter, we have 33 graduates this year from our PhD, Master of Science and Graduate Certificate programs. Since the programs inception in 1996, we have awarded 905 degrees and certificates to 815 people. I am very proud of all they accomplished during their time at OHSU and now beyond in various academic, industry, government, and other settings.

This year’s annual OHSU Convocation and Hooding Ceremony will take place virtually on Sunday, June 6, as noted in our department blog. Here is the transcript of my video message to the Class of 2021 graduates of the OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program:

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the 2021 graduates of the OHSU Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program to this year’s virtual Commencement ceremony. I never thought we would have a second virtual Commencement this year, but the pandemic is not yet fully behind us. With more and more people getting vaccinated each day, however, I am confident that next year’s ceremony will be in person, and I hope OHSU finds a way for those participating virtually the last couple years to take part in person in some way. If nothing else, we will celebrate next year at our annual DMICE banquet around graduation time that all alumni are always invited to attend. I do miss the pomp and circumstance of graduation, and getting to wear regalia and march in the procession.

As many of you know, the annual Commencement ceremony is an important event for me, as I enjoy every year celebrating the success of our graduates and their moving on to new paths in their lives. We have been awarding degrees and certificates from our program since 1998, and only once have I had to miss Commencement.

In any case, most of you are now moving from your studies into jobs where the contributions of informatics are more critical than ever. Just as the pandemic has exposed problems in our healthcare system, it has also exposed limitations in our data and information systems. It is critical for all informatics graduates, and everyone else in the informatics field, to keep improving how we use data and information, not only to overcome COVID-19 but also to improve health, health care, public health, and biomedical research generally. From bio- to imaging to clinical and public health informatics, the challenges have never been greater. I am confident that you all have the talent, and the knowledge and skills you have acquired in your studies, to meet those challenges.

I am pleased to report that with the 33 of you graduating today, our program has now awarded over 900 degrees and certificates dating back to 1998. These include 398 master’s degrees and 34 PhD degrees. Our graduates have achieved success in academia, industry, government, and just about every other place where informaticians work. Your success is one of the main aspects of our work that gives faculty and staff great satisfaction.

Let me close as always to remind you that even though you are moving on from OHSU and DMICE, we are still here for you and hope you will keep in touch with us as your careers develop and prosper.