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Senator Mary Landrieu Speaks; 3,427 Receive Degrees at LSU’s 268th Commencement Exercises

Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu delivered the commencement address and 3,427 students received degrees during LSU’s 268th commencement exercises held May 15.

Landrieu addressed the graduates at the main commencement ceremony, where degrees were conferred for all students, and Ph.D. candidates were recognized individually.

Separate diploma ceremonies for each college followed the main ceremony, at various times and locations across campus. At those ceremonies, every student was recognized individually.

Some 411 students graduated with honors, including 44 who received University Medals for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point averages. University Medalists were recognized at a special ceremony at the LSU Faculty Club on Thursday, May 14.

The oldest graduate was 70 and the youngest graduate was 20, receiving graduate and undergraduate degrees, respectively. The May 2009 graduating class represented 60 Louisiana parishes, 44 states and 52 countries. Fifty-six percent of the graduates were women, and 44 percent were men.

The Honors College produced 118 graduates. Forty-four, who received Sophomore Honor Distinction and completed the upper-division honors program, graduated with College Honors. Seven, who completed the upper-division honors program, graduated with Upper Division Honors Distinction.

Also during the main ceremony, LSU Chancellor Michael Martin recognized the LSU class of 1959 and the Golden Tigers, or those who graduated at least 50 years ago. LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman James P. Roy conferred degrees, and LSU Faculty Senate President and Professor of English Kevin Cope served as mace bearer.

The processional and recessional music was provided by the LSU Commencement Band, conducted by Director of Bands Frank B. Wickes. Leanne Pettit, candidate for Doctor of Musical Arts, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the LSU alma mater. The invocation and benediction were by Rabbi Corie Yutkin.

Lt. Col. Phillip Pugh Jr., professor of military science, recognized 23 newly commissioned Army, Navy and Air Force ROTC cadets who graduated. The cadets were officially commissioned at a separate ceremony on Thursday, May 14, at 10 a.m. in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student Athletes.

LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Charlie Roberts welcomed the graduates to the association, and LSU System President John V. Lombardi delivered closing remarks.

Posthumous degrees were awarded to Luke Stewart Bashore, Bachelor of Mass Communication, and Chandrasekar Reddy Komma, Ph.D., biochemistry. Relatives of Bashore, who was a native of Fork Union, Va., will his degree during the Manship School of Mass Communication’s degree ceremony. Komma’s widow, brother and sister-in-law travelled from Kurnool, India, and accepted the degree during the main ceremony.

Twenty-five students were also honored with the Distinguished Communicator Award, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation. These students earned this honor by meeting high standards set by faculty in various colleges and by the LSU Communication across the Curriculum, or CxC, program. The students earned high grade-point averages in communication-intensive courses – based on written, spoken, visual and technological communication – and have built digital portfolios, displayed as public Web sites, that include their communication projects from courses, internships, leadership roles and public service. Names of the distinguished communicators can be found here.

Three members of the USA Today All-USA College Academic Team received their degrees as well: Brian Goh of Baton Rouge, who was one of 20 students nationwide to earn first-team honors, and John Casey of Mandeville and Michael Rhea of DeRidder, who were named to the second team. Goh and Casey are also recipients of the national Barry M. Goldwater Scholar award, presented to students who excel in the academic fields of science and engineering. Goh is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, while Casey is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in biological engineering and Rhea with dual bachelor’s degrees in political science and international studies.

For a list of other noteworthy graduates, including Uyanga Erdenebold, who overcame blindness to receive a Master of Library & Information Science degree, LSU’s first graduate of the School of Coast & Environment and WNBA star Sylvia Fowles, see an accompanying release.

The names of students who received degrees can be found at This list is for May graduates who have authorized the release of their names.

For more information on commencement, visit

Billy Gomila | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
April 2009