Capella University’s Graduating Class of 2001 Gathers for the First and Last Time

July 12, 2001

When concepts and sharing experiences, it may prove easier to recognize each other’s writing style or e-mail address than identify a face in the crowd since Capella University operates completely online.

“The traditional auditorium-style commencement ceremony in July offers graduates the opportunity to share an old-fashioned smile and a congratulatory hug in honor of the milestone event,” said Mike Offerman, president of Capella University. “While some classmates have met face-to-face through Capella seminars, many students will be shaking hands for the first time.”

Capella University, the fastest-growing fully online university, is a regionally accredited university that allows learners to gain a high-quality education from the convenience of their own home. The university offers a variety of certificate, doctoral and master’s degree programs, including an MBA and an undergraduate IT program.

The ceremony marks Capella’s fourth graduating class and commencement. Approximately 250 students will be honored as the class of 2001. The event will be held at Northwestern College in Roseville, Minn., on July 28, 2001, at 4 p.m. CST. For students that cannot travel to Minnesota, the ceremony will also be broadcast live on the Capella University Web site (

More than half of the graduates will travel to Minneapolis to attend the ceremony, with some traveling from as far away as Israel, Puerto Rico and Romania. Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees and certificates will be awarded in the subjects of business, education, human services, psychology and technology.

“Capella has long understood the importance of the human element in e-learning,” said Steve Shank, founder of Capella University. “While technology allows people to gain access to Capella, it is ultimately the interaction that takes place within that technological medium that yields a quality educational experience. By focusing our curriculum on practical, outcome-based learning, we’ve been able to help our learners achieve their dreams, whether that is a promotion, a career change or just the satisfaction of completing their degree.”

Michael Hawley, the Dreyfoos Assistant Professor of Media Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, will present the commencement address. Hawley leads the groundbreaking research program called “Things That Think,” at the MIT Media Lab, which explores the limitless ways digital media will infuse everyday objects, including clothing, furniture, tools and toys. Through his research, Hawley has emerged as one of the nation’s leading voices for the need to test, experiment and embrace change.

Besides being the principal investigator for “Things That Think,” Hawley also directs the newly created consortium “Toys of Tomorrow,” which engages many of the world’s leading toy companies to invent new playthings.

“Capella University is a prime example of how technology can help enhance the lives of people,” Hawley said. “I’m honored to speak to these learners who have gone against the norm, embracing new technology as a way to advance their careers and move forward in the world.”