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CIIS' 56th Commencement Ceremony

CIIS was overjoyed to hold its 56th Commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2024. Festivities began at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco with a commencement reception on Mission campus. 

May 28, 2024

California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) held it 56th Commencement on Saturday, May 18, 2024 at the Sydney Goldstein Theater in San Francisco. CIIS President S. Brock Blomberg conferred 524 degrees, including 464 students who received their Master of Arts degrees, 53 students who received their Doctor of Philosophy degrees, six students who received their Doctor of Psychology degrees, and one student who received a Master of Fine Arts degree.

Commencement Highlights Video

Dr. Danielle Drake, Dean of Faculty Development, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Dr. Cindy Shearer, Program Chair and Professor, Integral and Transpersonal Psychology, and Interdisciplinary Arts, co-hosted the ceremony. Adrián Villaseñor Galarza, an integral eco-psychologist who received his doctorate from CIIS, offered the Invocation and Benediction. President Blomberg inspired graduates about their bright futures. The Commencement Address was given by Honorary Doctorate recipient Reshmaa Menakem (MSW, LICSW, SEP), an author and activist who specializes in racialized trauma and somatic healing.

Cori Franco, a new graduate from the Transformative Leadership Program, delivered the Student Reflection. Wildchoir offered a soaring musical performance. Following the ceremony, Mission Delirium, a “funky brass marching band,” led a procession of more than 250 graduates, along with their families and friends, back to campus for a joyous celebration and reception. 

View the Full Collection of the 2024 Commencement Photos

Invocation and Benediction by Adrián Villaseñor Galarza

Commencement 2024

Dr. Galarza, core faculty member in the East-West Psychology department, offered the Raxalaj mayab’ k’aslemalil or “Mayan Worldview, Fullness of Life,” which calls upon us to return to what is essential in this life, and invites our humanity to blossom.

Address by CIIS President S. Brock Blomberg

Commencement 2024

In his remarks to the graduates, President Blomberg spoke to the mystery of what it means to transform self, society, and earth through integral education.

“Candidly, I don't think there's an easy way to unpack this in the time I have provided today, or even this week, but let me share what I have learned in my short time here as my practice in my charge to you as a graduating class.”

“Find the one thing you are passionate about; give all you have – heart, mind, body spirit – to that endeavor,” President Blomberg reminded them. “Do that endeavor ethically and responsibly. And finally, don’t have any expectations on the outcome of your labor.”

He completed his remarks by encouraging the graduates to embark on the next chapter of their lives by carrying with them the spirit of transformation that defines all of us as individuals and as a community.

President Blomberg then introduced this year’s honorary degree recipient, Resmaa Menakem, a therapist, healer, racialized trauma expert and the creator of Somatic Abolitionism. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending our Hearts and Bodies.

“Resmaa’s contributions to society are many, and his work has earned widespread recognition and respect,” President Blomberg said as he bestowed the honor on Resmaa. “Today we are honored to add our voice to the chorus of praise by awarding him an honorary doctorate.”

Keynote Address by Resmaa Menakem

In his remarks to graduates, Commencement speaker Resmaa Menakem thanked his family, many of whom joined him in the audience, and, while honored by the distinction, he spoke about struggling initially to accept the honorary doctorate from an institution with which he was unfamiliar and cautioning graduates and the audience about the destructive nature of empire.

“I want to thank this university. Listen, when I was notified that I was gonna get this, I didn’t know how to quite think about it because a lot of my work is resisting capture. And how to resist capture. We are living in an empire that does nothing but know how to eat. That’s all it does. It devours things. It devours people.”

Menakem also spoke about the upside to being pessimistic.

“And when people and institutions acknowledge me, the first thing is to be pessimistic, right? I think pessimism sometimes gets a bad rap. I think pessimism sometimes is the brakes we need to examine things and slow things down. Sometimes people want us to be optimistic because they want to pick our pockets, pick our brains, and pick our genius. And sometimes, pessimism is the thing that saves us until we’re ready to do something else.”

This pessimism, Menakem suggested is necessary for “resisting capture” by empire, with additional tools of resistance offered by the “weirdness” of a CIIS education, which he had come to appreciate by learning more about its pedagogy and values.

“Y’all some weird people! Y’all had a band come up here and talk about Mama Earth! That’s some weird stuff at commencement! That’s weird! That’s what we need y’all – we need weird people. We need the people that are resisting capture. That are fugitive in their thinking.”

Watch Resmaa Menakem's Full Speech and Read the Full Transcript

Honoring Retiring Faculty Member Dr. Adeeba Deterville

Commencement 2024

Kathy Littles, University Provost, reflected on the career of retiring faculty member Dr. Adeeba Deterville, affectionately known as “Dr. Dee,” for her many years as an Assistant Professor in the Transformative Inquiry Undergraduate Studies program.

“On behalf of the CIIS community, I extend my deep appreciation and gratitude to Dr. Deterville for the invaluable and lasting contribution she has made to both our students and community – congratulations and we wish you a wonderful retirement.”

Student Reflection by Cori Franco

Commencement 2024

Cori Franco, a 2024 graduate from the Transformative Leadership program, delivered the student speech, “Bright Futures, Beloved Community: A Journey of Hope and Unity.” In her remarks, Franco reminded her fellow graduates of the importance of heartbreak and struggle in the face of the conflict in the Middle East.

“We can handle heartbreak and struggle. Today, let us collectively extend our love to the lives being directly impacted by the Israel-Hamas War. The complexity and hardship that is entangled with the experience of being human, often can feel daunting to speak about, in fear of not having the proper words to match the way our hearts intend to share our grief, confusion, and frustration.” 

Following Franco’s remarks, Dr. Drake and Dr. Shearer, conferred degrees on graduates from CIIS’ Schools of Consciousness and Transformation, Professional Psychology and Health, and Undergraduate Studies who completed their course of study. 

Read Cori Franco's Student Reflection

Watch the Full Ceremony

Congratulations, class of 2024!

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