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Ness to receive degree, address grads at St. Scholastica commencement

One of 837 candidates for graduation at the College of St. Scholastica today is also the commencement speaker: Duluth Mayor Don Ness.

Ness earned a master’s degree in management. It took him longer to get there than many of the 161 other candidates for master’s degrees and certificates.

“It should take you two years,” Ness said Friday, while in Washington lobbying on behalf of the city after attending Thursday’s memorial service for former U.S. Rep. Jim Oberstar.

“For me, it took nine years,” he said. “I was about halfway through, and then I was elected mayor. Those first years I was mayor were just so incredibly busy.”

After taking a break from classes during the start of his administration, Ness resumed with one or two evening classes per semester, completing his final class this week.

Ness said one of his long-term goals is to do some teaching, and the master’s degree will create opportunities for that. But the time spent in classes and in studies, on top of his mayoral duties, has been stressful for his family, he said.

“I’m not sure if I would do it again, at least in this scenario,” Ness said, describing “a true sense of relief” at having finished.

The commencement ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. in Amsoil Arena at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

In addition to the master’s degrees, 581 bachelor degrees will be awarded and 94 doctoral degrees.

After the ceremony, the new alumni will celebrate at a reception in the lower level of Tower Hall on the St. Scholastica campus.