We welcome honored guests, public officials, parents, spouses, relatives and friends of members of the graduating class at this 108th annual commencement of Southern Utah University in its 110th year. It is a very special honor to welcome our distinguished graduates! Included in this year’s graduating class are students from 32 of the 50 United States and 8 foreign countries: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Ghana, Japan, Taiwan and Tonga. Numerous graduates will continue their studies in masters programs at SUU or at graduate and professional schools elsewhere; SUU students have exceptionally high acceptance rates in these programs.
Today, the University honors achievement, and the successful culmination of a variety of academic pursuits as represented in those we graduate. We’d like to also recognize extraordinary individual accomplishment, those whose academic performance brought credit to themselves, their classmates, their families and those who taught them. Due to time constraints we shall recognize but a few of these superb scholars.
We have the opportunity today to salute seven Outstanding Scholars from colleges and schools, and three co-valedictorians: The Outstanding Scholars are: Sheena Rosander of the Beverley Taylor Sorenson College of Education and Human Development; Jed Rudd of the College of Performing and Visual Arts, and Julia Harker from the MFA Arts Administration program; Crimson Singleton of the School of Business, Kimberly Patterson from the MBA program and Caleb Miller from the Master of Accountancy program; Jodee Erskine of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and Sherry Nay Simkins from the Master of Professional Communication program; Travis Kyle of the College of Computing, Integrated Engineering & Technology; Traci Martinez of the College of Science.
Our co-valedictorians maintained a 4.0 GPA for their entire higher education career. The SUU valedictorians for 2007 are:
Ashley A Crum, an athletic training major with a minor in nutrition. Ashley was a four-year starter on the SUU women’s soccer team. She was team captain and was the Mid-Continent Conference Academic Athlete of the year. Upon graduation she plans to certify as an athletic trainer while preparing to take the MCAT.
Nicholas Gower, a finance major, has accepted a Dean’s Achievement Scholarship to attend the University of Arizona’s College of Law. Nicholas enjoys golf, softball, fishing and making toys at the Happy Factory for kids around the world. He is currently a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and the National Society of collegiate Scholars.
Trina Lloyd is graduating with a degree in Accounting. She has worked at Davis Accounting Group and participated in Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. As a member of SUU’s Waukeenyan Drill Team she placed 6th at the USA Collegiate Dance nationals Competition. She has received the SUU Board of trustees Scholarship.
We commend each of you for these very impressive achievements!
While at SUU, the accomplishments of the graduates have been abundant. Beyond the scholarly achievements we could list many student successes but time will not allow. This graduating class includes 1,343 students receiving degrees today, among these are 62 married couples. We salute our graduates, your families and are confident your contributions to society will be magnificent.
Certainly one of the major reasons for the remarkable honors and achievements of these terrific students is SUU’s 236 full-time and 60 part-time faculty. As committed mentors, teachers and scholars, SUU’s faculty do indeed celebrate in the success of their students. They help create the learning environment that inspires their students to see new vistas, understand new concepts and reach new heights. We admire and respect the talents, knowledge and commitment to students so readily apparent among the University’s dedicated faculty. Certainly the preparation you graduates have attained during your years at SUU is a result of your own diligent efforts, but also the inspired instruction and encouragement you have received from splendid faculty, mentors, staff and administrators on this campus. Henry Adams said, “A teacher affects eternity; he(she) can never tell where his influence stops.”
At a Graduation Banquet last evening, special faculty and staff awards were presented. The Distinguished Classified Staff Member is Kristina Stevenson of the Theatre Arts and Dance department and the Distinguished Professional Staff Member is Pam Branin of the Service Learning Center. Outstanding staff members, female and male, are Rossina Feldsted of the Art and Design department and Tim Roy of the Building Maintenance Repair & Renovation.
A Distinguished Educator’s Committee and an Outstanding Scholar’s Committee, created by the Faculty Senate, recommended the following to receive awards this year: Matthew Schmidt, Outstanding Educator (in Agriculture and Nutrition Science); Larry Ping, Outstanding Scholar (in History) and as Distinguished Educators, Kevin Stein (in Communication), Todd Petersen (in English), and Les Jones (in Psychology).
Finally, we acknowledge the retirement of 11 of our faculty and staff colleagues who leave the University after having given the institution 249 quality years. From the staff: Luann Abbott, Kathryn Barrick, Lois Bullock, Jean Huntsman, Marva Middleton, Georgia Thompson and Scott Truman; and from the faculty: Merlene Ellington, Don Massengale, James Mills and Art Porter have retired during the year or announced their retirement. We extend to them our deepest thanks for their years of dedicated service. We regard them as terrific members of today’s graduating class.
I’d like to extend to each of the graduates my congratulations and those of my colleagues. You leave this University with our best wishes and most sincere regard. You leave SUU a better place because of your service and achievements.
A bond has been formed between you and this institution. From this time forward, the name, the traditions, the influence of this University are freely yours, just as your achievements, your successes, indeed the tenor of your life will reflect on SUU. The buildings and equipment, the services of teachers and staff, the fellowship of hundreds of students, have all been aimed toward your growth and education. You leave this institution with our best wishes and with the knowledge that wherever you go, a part of Southern Utah University goes with you.
We wish to express appreciation to all who have participated in these exercises. A special thanks to our honorary degree recipients for being with us today and for the wonderful messages from Governor Huntsman and Gregory Barnett. Our thanks to the fine young musicians who have performed so splendidly this morning and to the Commencement Team for their extra-mile efforts in organizing these ceremonies.