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U.S. Under Secretary for Energy Kristina Johnson Speaks, 3,382 Students Receive Degrees at LSU’s 271st Commencement Exercises

BATON ROUGE – Kristina M. Johnson, under secretary for energy in the U.S. Department of Energy in Washington, D.C., delivered the commencement address and 3,382 students received degrees at LSU’s 271stcommencement exercises on Friday, May 21.

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

“I know as your commencement speaker, I’m supposed to impart all kinds of life’s lessons, but frankly, there’s a lot that we can learn from the graduates of LSU,” Johnson said. “You have defined the word ‘resilient’ ... you’ve seen tremendous challenges, but you’ve also helped tackle these challenges. On behalf of the entire Obama administration, I’d like to say a special thanks to the LSU faculty and students who are giving their time and expertise to help protect the Gulf Coast for the unwilling disaster of the BP spill.”

Johnson urged the graduates to focus their commitments on three areas – optimism, kindness and community. She said that these three could be summed up into a single idea – service – and that by trying to find and meet unmet needs, the graduates would likely find new markets and new opportunities. She related this concept to when Drew Brees chose to come to New Orleans to not only be a part of rebuilding the Saints organization, but to be part of rebuilding the city and region.

“I hope you follow that model of service. Take that resilience that you’ve shown here and use it to make someone’s life better,” Johnson said.

After making a few jokes throughout her speech that questioned why she was the choice to deliver LSU’s commencement address, she left the graduates with her true reason for wanting to speak to them.

“I’m here because more than any new policy or any new technology, you are the future, and it’s all that you are about to do which is important to all of us,” she said. “Go Tigers and congratulations to the graduating class of 2010.”

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.

This year marks LSU’s 150th, or sesquicentennial, anniversary. To mark this momentous occasion, LSU offered several sesquicentennial flourishes for the 2010 graduates:

  • Each graduate received a commemorative diploma reminiscent of the eight diplomas issued at the university’s first commencement ceremony in 1869. The masthead and verbiage of the original diploma were preserved in this commemorative edition.
  • Graduates and guests enjoyed the “LSU Rhapsody,” a compilation of some of the most treasured LSU music. The Rhapsody is reserved for the most special of occasions and is played today to honor the university’s milestone anniversary.
  • A video display of historical images dating back to the university’s earliest days was played for the graduates and their guests.
  • Hospitality areas were set up across campus for graduates and guests. Members of the LSU Staff Senate were on hand with university maps and to answer any questions guests had. LSU Tiger Trails shuttles were available to transport special guests from the main ceremony to college diploma ceremonies.

Martin presided over the main ceremony and recognized the LSU class of 1960 and the Golden Tigers, or those who graduated at least 50 years ago. LSU Board of Supervisors Chairman R. Blake Chatelain conferred degrees, and LSU Faculty Senate President and Professor of English Kevin Cope served as mace bearer.

The processional and recessional music was be provided by the LSU Commencement Band, conducted by Frank B. Wickes. Susan Ruggiero-Mezzadri, who received her Doctor of Musical Arts, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the LSU alma mater. The invocation and benediction was given be by the Rev. Andrew S. Rollins of St. Alban’s Chapel and Episcopal University Center.

The May 2010 graduating class represents 56 Louisiana parishes, 46 U.S. states and 54 foreign countries. Fifty-six percent of the graduates were women and 44 percent were men. The oldest graduate is 83 and four graduates were the youngest at 20.

During the main ceremony, Col. Frederick Guendel, professor of aerospace studies, recognized the newly commissioned Army, Air Force and Navy ROTC cadets. Twenty-two total graduates were commissioned at a special ceremony on Thursday, May 20. Eight of the graduates were from the LSU Air Force ROTC program; 11 of the graduates were from the LSU Army ROTC program, including five students from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; and three were LSU students who participated in Southern University's Navy ROTC program.

LSU also honored 18 graduating students with the LSU Distinguished Communicator Award. These students earned this honor by meeting high standards set by faculty in various colleges and by the LSU Communication across the Curriculum 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 websites that include their communication projects from courses, internships, leadership roles and public service.

There were 386 students who graduated with honors, including 53 students who received University Medals for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class.

Some 143 students graduated from the LSU Honors College, with 32 students earning College Honors and six earning Upper Division Honors Distinction.

LSU’s African-American graduates were honored at a Robing Ceremony on Thursday, May 20. During the event, degree candidates receive the traditional African Kente stole in LSU colors to signify the completion of their academic journey.

Among notable degree recipients this year is Margaret Toups, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology. She began work on her degree in 1965 at the University of New Orleans and transferred to LSU in 1968. Besides taking a break from her studies between 1974 and 2003, she enrolled in either three or six hours each semester while working as an administrative coordinator in the Department of Philosophy & Religious Studies for a number of years.

Siblings Chase and Krista Emerick are both earned Bachelor of General Studies degrees, while 83-year-old Herbert Frank Termini received his fourth degree from LSU, a Bachelor of Fine Art degree in studio art with concentration in sculpture. He also holds a Bachelor of Architecture in 1988, a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering in 1953 and a Master of Science in 1958.

A number of LSU athletes graduated including Ashleigh Clare-Kearney, who finished her career as one of the most decorated gymnasts in LSU history; football players Keiland Williams, Chris Hawkins and Danny McCray; basketball’s Tasmin Mitchell; women’s basketball’s Allison Hightower; former women’s basketball player and a member of the team that went to four straight Final Fours Ashley Thomas, who received her MBA degree; and baseball’s Paul Bertuccini, a pitcher on the 2009 College World Series Champion baseball team.

For more information on commencement, visit

Ernie Ballard | Editor | Office of Communications & University Relations
May 2010