LSU Graduates Record Numbers with Class of 2014
U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus delivers keynote address, music legend Buddy Guy receives honorary degree
BATON ROUGE – LSU’s class of 2014 was a groundbreaking one for the university in many areas with new records for African-American, Hispanic, female and degrees awarded.
“LSU’s Class of 2014 is remarkable. In a time when having a college degree has never been more important to an individual’s future, these young men and women have achieved their dream of higher education in record-setting numbers,” said LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander. “We couldn’t be more proud to count them among our LSU alumni.”
At the spring commencement ceremony, 3,953 students received degrees, which is the largest amount of degrees awarded at a single commencement surpassing May 2012’s 3,824 students. The total Class of 2014 – students receiving degrees in previous summer and fall commencements combined with the current spring commencement – is also a record breaker for the university with numbers showing that about 6,367 students received degrees, coming ahead of 2012’s 6,251 graduates.
The Class of 2014 includes 570 African-American students, up from the previous high of 516 in the class of 2013, reflecting a 10.5 percent increase. The class also includes 240 Hispanic students, up from the previous high of 218 in the class of 2012, reflecting a 10.1 percent increase. Finally, the overall class has 3,421 female graduates, up from the previous high of 3,305 in the class of 2012, reflecting a 3.5 percent increase.
The May 2014 graduating class represents 57 Louisiana parishes, 47 U.S. states and 57 foreign countries. Women made up 55.81 percent of the class and men made up 44.19 percent. The oldest graduate is 69, and the youngest was 19. The 3,953 total graduates are made up of 3,068 students who received bachelor’s degrees; 689 who received master’s degrees; five who received education specialist certificates; 105 who received a Ph.D.; eight who received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree; and 78 who received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree.
George “Buddy” Guy was awarded an honorary degree for his distinguished music career. Guy worked in LSU’s facilities services department from 1955 to 1958, before leaving to pursue a musical career in Chicago. Guy is a six-time Grammy Award-winning blues guitarist who has influenced generations of musicians.
“Things like this come once in a lifetime. Thank you LSU,” Guy said.
Ray Mabus, the 75th United States Secretary of the Navy and leader of America’s Navy and Marine Corps, delivered the keynote address and congratulated the graduates and their families on this achievement.
Mabus made sure that the graduates realize that finishing college is something they didn’t do alone. Whether it was family, friends, teachers, coaches or other mentors in the students’ lives, each of them received help along the way.
“After the ceremony, take time to give them an extra hug. Thank them for what they’ve done,” Mabus said. “In a very real way, today is their day too.”
As Secretary of the Navy, Mabus is responsible for conducting the affairs of the Department of the Navy, including recruiting, organizing, equipping, training and mobilizing. Additionally, he oversees the construction and repair of naval ships, aircraft and facilities, and formulates and implements policies and programs consistent with the national security policies established by the president and the secretary of defense.
Mabus expressed the importance of service to the graduates. It may be service to their country or service in their everyday lives as teachers, nurses, neighbors or parents. He encouraged the graduates to do something outside themselves to make a difference for others.
“At the end of your life, the most important things probably are not going to be the money or the stuff that you accumulate,” Mabus said. “The important things are going to be the people you’ve touched, the lives you’ve made better. The futures you’ve made brighter.”
Mabus closed his speech reflecting on his father, who passed away at the age of 85. He had made a living as a tree farmer in Mississippi, but in the last year of his life, he didn’t cut a single tree, instead he planted new ones. He knew he wouldn’t see any return from those trees, but planted them for others to enjoy.
“Cherish your graduation because you’ve earned it, but when this day is over, go out and earn some more things that will be cherished long after you’re gone,” Mabus said. “It’s your turn. It’s your life, so tomorrow, ask yourself what trees will I plant?”
Alexander presided over the main ceremony and recognized the LSU class of 1964 and the Golden Tigers, or those who graduated at least 50 years ago. LSU Board of Supervisors member Rolfe McCollister Jr. 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 Wind Ensemble, conducted by Dennis Llinas. Matthew Joseph Daniels, candidate for a Doctor of Musical Arts degree, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the LSU alma mater.
During the main ceremony, Cmdr. Tremayne Criner recognized the newly commissioned Army, Air Force and Navy ROTC cadets. The 17 cadets were officially commissioned at a separate ceremony on May 15 in the Bo Campbell Auditorium in the Cox Communications Academic Center for Student-Athletes.
LSU also honored the first group of African American students to desegregate the LSU undergraduate program on the 50th anniversary of their enrollment. Six students – Freya Anderson, Carlice Collins, Mason Ingram, Oliver Mack Jr., Clifford Ray Smith and Adam Sterling III – who legally challenged standing segregation laws and other African American undergraduates who enrolled with them in the summer of 1964 were recognized at the 18th annual Robing Ceremony hosted by the African American Cultural Center.
"It’s a real sign of our progress both as a university and as a country that we can commemorate the legal end of segregation at LSU at the same time we note our African American graduation rate is at 60 percent – highest in our history and above the national average – and our African American enrollment has reached more than 3,200 students,” Alexander said.
The Distinguished Communicator Award was given to 74 students, the most in the university’s history. This year’s total more than doubles last year’s 32 students who received the award for earning a high grade-point average in communication-intensive courses – based on written, spoken, visual and technological communication – and building a digital portfolio displayed online that includes communication projects from courses, internships, leadership roles and public service.
Four-hundred-forty-seven students graduated with honors, including 53 students who are potentially slated to receive University Medals for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class.
This semester, 65 students earned College Honors and six students earned Upper Division Honors Distinction from the LSU Honors College. These students participated in a specific honors program and successfully completed and defended an undergraduate thesis.
Other notables spring 2014 graduates include LSU’s two Truman Scholars from 2013 Catherine Fontenot of Basile, La., and Matt Landrieu of New Orleans; Goldwater scholar Corey Landry of Denham Springs; and two-time recipient of the U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship Logan de La Barre-Hays of Jackson, Miss.
Graduation is always a family affair, but this spring a number of family members earned degrees together, including Emily Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and her grandson Evan Jones, who earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies; Carolyn Robinson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies, and her son, Ryan Kinler, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering; twins Gabrielle and Victoria Hauth both earned degrees from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences; sisters Arham and Farra Mughal both earned degrees from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences; and sisters Halemah and Noor Abuhajah both earned bachelor’s degrees in sociology from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences.
For more information on commencement, visit www.lsu.edu/commencement.
The names of LSU graduates and honor graduates for May 2014 are now posted online for reporters and editors to copy and paste the names for publication. One click of the mouse will take reporters to the list(s) they need.
The direct link to the list of graduates is http://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/commencement/2014/05/15/may-2014-graduate-list/.