LSU Chancellor Michael Martin Recognized, 686 Students Receive Degrees at LSU's 278th Commencement
As one of his final duties as chancellor, Michael V. Martin presided over LSU's 278th commencement exercises, where 686 students received degrees and alumnus and actor Michael Papajohn delivered the commencement address.
In recognition of his time serving as LSU's eighth chancellor, interim LSU System President William Jenkins recognized Martin with a proclamation of his four years on campus and presented him with a University Medal.
"Chancellor Michael V. Martin, Louisiana State University is pleased and privilege to honor you for extraordinary, distinguished and steadfast leadership as LSU’s eighth chancellor," Jenkins read from a citation honoring Martin.
The citation ended with "Therefore, it is with the greatest of pleasure that Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College presents you with this citation for the university medal with deepest gratitude for your outstanding leadership, abiding service and indefatigable Tiger spirit."
"I'm touched and I'm honored, and thank all of you for the pleasure and the honor for serving as the chancellor of LSU," Martin said. "It's been a journey with some bumps in the road but always done with the very best colleagues to work with."
Papajohn, who recently moved back to Baton Rouge, reflected on his rise from playing baseball at Gulf Coast Community College, enrolling at LSU and playing centerfield on the baseball team to his start in acting as Dennis Quaid’s stunt double in Everybody's All-American and now to having worked in more than 120 movies.
"The last time I was in the PMAC was 1988, when I graduated 24 years ago. A lot has happened during that time. I've died a lot and killed a lot of people," said Papajohn, who typically is cast as a villain in his films.
Papajohn, who is best known for playing the carjacker who killed Peter Parker's Uncle Ben in Spider-Man, talked about the importance of building relationships and maintaining those connections throughout your life.
Papajohn is also known for doing Adam Sandler's stunts as Bobby Boucher in The Waterboy, playing Kevin Costner's nemesis in For the Love of the Game, and Megan Fox's recently incarcerated father in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. A truly good guy who makes a living playing bad guys, Papajohn incurred the wrath of Cameron Diaz in Charlie's Angels, was shot by Moon Bloodgood in Terminator: Salvation, and was shot and killed by Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser.
Papajohn credited former LSU coach Skip Bertman for providing him with mentorship and advice over the years. With the assistance of Bertman, Papajohn landed the role in For the Love of the Game, which ultimately led to Papajohn meeting director Sam Raimi.
"I wouldn't be in the entertainment business without this university and the relationships," Papajohn said. "On that set of For the Love of the Game, I met a director named Sam Raimi. He directed Spider-Man, and I played the carjacker and that opened me up to all the villain roles. That was through Coach Bertman and this university."
Papajohn is heavily involved with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and is also the founder of the Action Actor Academy, bringing industry professionals together to help aspiring actors and stunt men and women launch their own careers. He is married to wife Paula. They have one son, Sean.
"My advice to the graduates is to seek the best coaches and mentors, and not mediocre coaches, go for the best," said Papajohn, a native of Birmingham, Ala. "Surround yourself with great people, smart people – the top in their field."
Of the 686 graduates, 212 earned master’s degrees, four received a certificate of education specialist and 100 received doctoral degrees. Eleven students graduated with honors, including Hayley Alexandra Kropog, who received the University Medal for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average.
"It's been a whirlwind, four years here," said Kropog, a native of Hammond, La. "Four years of incredible memories, great opportunities, so much learning educationally about my major. I found my career passion. I've learned so much about myself. It really has been a wonderful journey here at LSU and for it all to come together today, having my family here and receiving great honors here, I couldn't be happier."
Kropog, who graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication degree in broadcast journalism, is a four-year member of the LSU Tiger Girls – spending the last two years as team captain – and was an anchor for Tiger TV. She plans to pursue a career in broadcast journalism and is currently working as an international dance instructor for the Universal Dance Association.
She was teaching dance in South Korea when she found out she would be receiving the University Medal at commencement.
"It was so exciting to be on the other side of the world, first of all, and to hear this incredible news about graduation, I was ecstatic," Kropog said.
The August 2012 graduating class represented 45 Louisiana parishes, 35 U.S. states and 28 foreign countries. Women made up 51.75 percent of the graduates and men made up 48.25 percent. The oldest graduate was 62 and three graduates were the youngest at 20.
During the ceremony, Jenkins conferred degrees, and Kevin L. Cope, LSU Faculty Senate president, served as mace bearer. The invocation and benediction were given by the Rev. Dr. Steve Crump, senior minister at Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge. The "Star-Spangled Banner" and LSU alma mater were performed by Amy Porter, a doctoral student in the College of Music & Dramatic Arts, and the processional and recessional music were performed by the Norem Brass Quintet.
Lt. Col. Lawrence Burns, professor of military science, recognized LSU's five newly commissioned ROTC officers. A separate commissioning ceremony was held on Thursday, Aug. 2, at the Dalton J. Woods Auditorium in the Energy, Coast and Environment Building.
LSU honored Trevor Fanning of New Orleans with the LSU Distinguished Communicator Award. Fanning earned this honor by meeting high standards set by faculty in various colleges and by the LSU Communication across the Curriculum program. He earned a high grade-point average in communication-intensive courses – based on written, spoken, visual and technological communication – and built a digital portfolio displayed as a public website that includes communication projects from courses, internships, leadership roles and public service.
Eleven LSU student-athletes graduated during summer commencement, including football's Chevis Jackson, 2007 First-Team All-SEC; Richard Dickson, 2006 and 2008 Second-Team All-SEC; and Darry Beckwith, 2008 Butkus Award Finalist and 2007 and 2008 Second-Team All-SEC; softball's Juliana Santos, 2009 NFCA All-South Region First Team; and track and field’s Keyth Talley, 2012 NCAA 4x100 relay team National Champion and 2011 Outdoor All-American.
A complete list of graduates and honor graduates will be available online Aug. 3 at LSU’s commencement website. This site can be accessed through LSU’s home page at www.lsu.edu or directly at www.lsu.edu/commencement.