The college’s first commencement awarded degrees to 230 students. ▲ Nicks and dents notwithstanding, the college continued to serve its teaching mission, attracting more and more students each year. From an initial enrollment of 570, second-year enrollments jumped up to 939, and the third year saw 957 students. Those numbers do not reflect the many students enrolled in evening classes. T H E F I R S T G R A D UAT E S On June 9, 1972, 230 students achieved the honor of being the first graduates of Middlesex, receiving associate degrees or certificates for completion of oneor two-year programs of study, the majority obtaining Associate in Science degrees. At the first commencement exercises, student speaker Jeanne Deignan sought to inspire her fellow graduates: “The road before us now is unknown, but we hold the lighted candles – let each of us in his or her own way turn and light the candles of others to follow.” The first commencement speaker was Dr. Max Lerner, author, journalist, and professor of American civilization and world politics. Lerner predicted Middlesex would “fly very high” in the future because of “the kind of educational experience the institution represents.” He credited the approach of Middlesex: “Education for all, not just the few; education not in a vacuum, but in a link with the community; education not just for a few years, but for a whole lifetime; and education not just for one portion of us – the intellectual part – but for the entire person, including education of the heart.” Press coverage of commencement exercises reflected the tumultuous period of history that was playing out on a global scale. 19