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UW-RF Confers Nearly 700 degrees

[Morning ceremony photos]
[Afternoon ceremony photos]

MAY 15, 2006--A little rain didn't dampen the spirits of the almost 700 graduates who received their degrees on Saturday, May 13, at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, marking the beginning of new educational, career, and life endeavors.

Chancellor Don Betz welcomed the almost 6,000 family and friends who attended morning and afternoon ceremonies.

"Graduates, we believe that your UW-River Falls education has prepared you well to seek your future, guided by the power of gratitude, the power of encouragement, and the power of service," said Betz. "We trust that, just as you have had excellent roles models in family, friends, faculty and staff, you now will 'model the way,' as positive and powerful examples for others. We wish you every success in the years ahead."

Betz was joined by Ginny Coombs, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, who conferred degrees to the graduates along with college administrators.

The morning program included Graduates of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, represented by Interim Dean Nate Splett, the College of Business and Economics, represented by Dean Barbara Nemecek, and Graduate Studies, represented by Director Douglas Johnson.

The afternoon ceremony included graduates of the College of Arts and Sciences, represented by Dean Terry Brown, and the College of Education and Professional Studies, represented by Dean Connie Foster. Also recognized was the 2006 Distinguished Teacher, Nate Splett, and the 2006 Distinguished Alumni, William Boehm, an executive with Kroger Cos., and the late Dr. Donald Babbitt, a world-renowned pediatric radiologist. His wife, Dr. Katherine Babbitt, accepted the award on his behalf.

Barbara Werner, professor speech communication and chair of the Faculty Senate, along with graduate and outgoing Student Senate President Nicholas Cluppert. offered congratulatory messages to the cohort.

Addressing the morning graduates was Thomas O'Hern, of Maplewood, Minn., who received a master's of science in education-school psychology. In his speech, "University Greatness," O'Hern offered his thoughts on the past and the future.

"My fellow graduates, this is a day measured and honored with success. The road to success is not without obstacles and is often paved with difficult choices. Only by perseverance do we as human beings move into a real filled with hope and inspiration. ... I hope that when all the layers are peeled off that the core of your inner being is compassion. That is what the future of our world needs."

O'Hern also noted that education is a lifelong journey. "Few would argue that graduation is the end of academic growth and emotional development. It is vested with new insight so future endeavors can be accomplished ... When one journey ends, another begins."

Michelle Dodge, a speech communications major from Trego, Wis., presented the afternoon graduates with her speech "To Believe in Yourself Is to Believe in Opportunity."

Dodge spoke about the relationships built as a collegian. "The people that we met in college have had a significant influence on the transformation from the person we were on day one to the person we are today. It may be as simple as that friends who made you stop and look at how beautiful the trees are or as significant as finding the one person you couldn't imagine your life without."

Dodge also spoke about a blossoming worldview. "Never did I think I'd have friends from Japan next to me in class. ... We are half a world apart and yet connecting on so many levels. Never did I think sitting next to me would be an incredible friend, a student, and a soldier. ... They have fought in a war worlds away and now they are sharing notes with me. These are the people who impact our lives every day we have been here.

"This university is the way it is because of the incredible people who give themselves wholeheartedly to the cause of education and the college experience. ... This university has been our home away from home. These people have been part of our family."

Graduates at both ceremonies were welcomed into a lifetime association with UW-River Falls alumni by Paul Rebholz, chair of the UW-River Falls Foundation Board of Directors.

James King, an economics major from River Falls, led the singing of the UW-River Falls Pledge Song as well as the National Anthem, performed by the River Falls Brass. The RF Brass also performed the processional, "Pomp and Circumstance" by Edward Elgar, which was led by faculty marshal and English Professor Nicholas Karolides in the afternoon and Plant and Earth Science Professor William Cordua in the morning. The RF Brass also performed the recessional, "Quintet No. 1" by Victor Ewald.

A reception for the graduates and their families, friends and faculty followed each ceremony.

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Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:07:25 Central Daylight Time

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