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USU sends off 4,600 new graduates with sunshine, optimism

May 9th, 2011 Posted in Opinion

LOGAN—Nearly 4,600 students graduated from Utah State University this weekend, heading into a tough job market with optimism and enthusiasm.

Led by President Stan Albrecht, Provost Raymond Coward, with the trustees and dignitaries, the procession of faculty and then hundreds of students stepped off from the Quad to the Spectrum in spring sunshine—uncharacteristic in recent USU commencement events—and the 124th graduation ceremonies at Utah’s “Ag school” adopted a similarly upbeat note.

To start the morning commencement ceremonies, faculty and dignitaries, followed by herds of students grouped by college, marched across campus from the green of the Quad, along the College Walk, past new construction into the USU Spectrum, home of the most successful Aggie men’s and women’s basketball teams in recent memory.

For many onlookers, students and faculty, the formal procession across campus was the highlight of the day, an opportunity to showcase their accomplishments to the applause of family and friends. New alumni whooped, laughed and cried as hundreds of USU professors reveled in their own college regalia—black gowns, colorful graduate hoods, and sometimes ill-fitting headwear—that comes out of closets only once a year.

“We probably should practice this,” one professor said, as commencement marshals tried to get the faculty lined up two-by-two for the walk to the Spectrum ceremonies. Two professors debated what side the colorful tassels should hang on their hats—one the traditional “flat hat” and the other a soft “muffin.” They compromised—one left, one right—and marched away out of step.

The new graduates were also happily out of line as they marched past buildings where they’d spent four years or more in classes—history and political science in Old Main, bio in the Widtsoe/Eccles science building and English and journalism Animal Science—across the plaza in front of the Taggart Student Center, across the newly renamed Aggie Bull-evard, and then whistling past the USU cemetery. Along the path, moms and dads, kids and grandparents strained see past the faculty ranks as they waited to see their Aggie almost-alums.

“Yay MOM!” exclaimed one crayon-orange poster.

“Where IS she?” a mother asked her husband.

At the tunnels into the Spectrum, the administrators, trustees and faculty split into a celebratory lane to applaud passing students. Usually, the students or the faculty were on the wrong side. Some high-fived their professors, talked urgently on cell phones, or passed with tense eyes on the pavement.

“Woohoo!” a brown-tasseled Natural Resources student whooped, and then hugged a professor as the line passed.

The Spectrum, home to so many wild Aggie sports events, seemed a little self-conscious (“We are the HURD. The rowdiest, loudest, biggest, and best fans of USU athletics. We are the ones on the front row, at every event. Other teams fear us. We bring Aggie Spirit everywhere we go. We are LOUD and we are PROUD. We are the HURD.”) But the spirit and substance were there.

The morning ceremonies, led by USU President Albrecht, celebrated both the accomplishments of the Class of 2011, and the legacy of previous Aggies, the victims of a 2005 van crash that killed eight students and an instructor.

Alumnus John Wilkerson, a businessman and philanthropist who graduated in 1965, urged graduates to have fun and make a difference. “Along with your career success, I urge you to find the big social issues that resonate for you, commit to them and do your part to move our world onward and upward,” he said.

Four others also received honorary doctorates, but the students and their families were more interested in celebrating the 3,622 new bachelor’s degree graduates, the 113 new PhDs and 902 new Aggie master’s alumni. Students came mostly from Utah, but also represent 47 other U.S. states and 22 countries.

There were 110 students graduating summa cum laude with a practically perfect grade-point averages of A (3.95-4.0), 328 magna cum laude (GPA 3.8-3.959), and 787 were cum laude (GPA 3.5-3.799).

The College of Agriculture graduated 233 students: Agriculture (24); Agricultural Science Technology Education/Agricultural Communication & Journalism (53); Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences (32); Applied Economics (8); Landscape and Environmental Planning (19); Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Sciences (29); Plants, Soils and Climate (68, including certificates and associates degrees).

The Caine College of the Arts graduated 171 students: Art (70); Interior Design (40); Music (54); Theatre Arts (7).

The Jon M. Huntsman School of Business graduated 789 students: Accounting (87); Business (143); Economics and Finance (358); Management (153); Management Information Systems (48, including associate’s degrees).

The Emma Eccles Jones College of Education & Human Services graduated 785 students: Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education (141); Family, Consumer and Human Development (137); Health, Physical Education and Recreation (168); Interdisciplinary Studies (13); Psychology (91); Special Education and Rehabilitation (51); Teacher Education and Leadership (184);

The College of Engineering graduated 291 students: Biological Engineering (20); Civil and Environmental Engineering (76); Electrical and Computer Engineering (43); ENgineering (6); Engineering and Technology Education (42); General Engineering (2); Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (102).

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences graduated 649 students: English (104); History (64); Interdisciplinary Studies (53); Journalism & Communication (117); Languages, Philosophy and Speech Communication (72); Liberal Arts & Sciences (48); Political Science (95); Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology (100).

The College of Natural Resources graduated 51 students: Environment and Society (18); Natural Resources (2); Watershed Sciences (10); Wildlife Resources (21)

The College of Science graduated 187 students: Biology (62); Chemistry and Biochemistry (28); Computer Science (30); Geology (11); Mathematics and Statistics (40); Physics (16).

Another 469 associate’s degrees also were awarded.


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