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Friends, Family and the Campus Community Celebrate the Undergraduate Class of 2024

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Connor Mokrzycki


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More than 4,000 friends, family members and community members packed into Magness Arena Saturday, celebrating the graduation of the Class of 2024.

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Most of the Class of 2024 graduated from high school at the height of pandemic-era restrictions, social distancing and remote learning, with many schools altering or forgoing their graduation ceremonies entirely. But now, four years on, thousands of family members and friends packed into Magness Arena on Friday, celebrating the Class of 2024 and their accomplishments and perseverance.

Students in graduation regalia celebrating at Undergraduate Commencement

Chancellor Jeremy Haefner began the ceremony by welcoming several members of the Class of 1974—who were on campus for their 50th reunion—before turning his attention to the Class of 2024. “It is such an honor to celebrate you! And this class, in particular, deserves special recognition,” he said.

Highlighting how they weathered the pandemic and its impacts on social life and well-being, and ongoing global, political and on-campus issues, “You persevered,” Chancellor Haefner said. “You proved to yourselves that you are more than capable, and all of us at the University of Denver are incredibly proud of you.”

Chancellor Haefner then welcomed commencement speaker Marc Nathanson (BA ’67), who offered the soon-to-be graduates three lessons he learned throughout his time at the University and his career. Nathanson founded Falcon Cable in 1975, a pioneer in the cable industry that focused on areas with poor broadcast service. In the 1990s, Nathanson served as the chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. He also took on roles including vice chairman of the National Democratic Institute, board member of the East-West Center and board member of the Aspen Institute. He was appointed ambassador to Norway by President Joe Biden and served from 2022-2024.

Nathanson began his speech recounting a lesson learned on his first day on campus in the fall of 1963: “Without taking risks, there are no rewards.”

A student holds up their diploma at graduation

During faculty speeches at a reception for new students, “My eyes were focused on the most stunning girl I’d ever seen. She had an unusual allure. She made me feel that she was way over my head. I lacked the guts to say hello,” Nathanson said. “The next day, in freshman speech class, faith intervened. The enchanting girl was seated just three rows away from me.” When the two met after an early assignment, he said, “I mustered the courage after class to ask her out. That single decision changed my life forever, because Jane Fallek became my wife right after we graduated from DU.”

Nathanson continued, reflecting on how he found success in the cable television industry. “Follow your instincts and carve your own path. When one door closes, another door will open,” he said. While studying political science and mass communications, Nathanson was originally interested in advertising, but shifted his focus to the cable industry while many of his peers were committed to finding jobs with the major broadcast networks. In graduate school, he became convinced that cable television was going to take over. “In those days, fewer than 5% of Americans subscribed to cable. Fast forward, when I sold my company in 1999, we were the 8th largest cable company in the country, and 85% of all Americans subscribed to cable or satellite TV,” he said. “Times change, so do your preferences. Go into a field that you’re interested in, even if it’s your second choice.”

His third lesson for the graduates was to focus on building relationships and networking. “No matter how successful you become, it’s the relationships you nurture that truly matter,” Nathanson said. “The bonds you cultivate will be your greatest legacy.”

In addition to his lessons for navigating the world, Nathanson also recognized the global, political and societal challenges facing the Class of 2024, calling on them to be active and serve as a force for change. “I say to all of you, words matter, your voice matters, your vote maters. Be engaged, give back to your community, give back to your alma mater and give back to your country,” he said. “I am confident that this generation—all of you—will make a difference and overcome these challenges.”

A student holds up their diploma at graduation

Wrapping up his speech, Nathanson congratulated the Class of 2024, and praised the Denver Men’s Hockey team’s historic championship victory this spring. “I am so proud of you and honored to be here at your graduation. Holdfast to your dreams and go forward like the pioneers that you are,” Nathanson said. “Go Pioneers! Here’s to ten more national championships!”

Concluding the ceremony, Chancellor Haefner celebrated the graduates’ accomplishments. “Alumni—know that we are so proud of you. You have cultivated the knowledge you need to be prepared for all kinds of endeavors, to make a real difference in the world and help shape it for everyone you love and all those who come after,” he said.

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