LSU Graduates Record Numbers with Class of 2015-16

BATON ROUGE – LSU’s class of 2015-16 was a groundbreaking one for the university in many areas with new records for African American, Hispanic, female, veteran and overall graduation numbers.

At the spring commencement ceremony on Friday, May 13, a total of 4,102 degrees were awarded – the largest amount of degrees awarded at a single commencement surpassing last year’s 3,977 degrees awarded in the spring. The overall class of 2015-16 – students receiving degrees in previous summer and fall commencements combined with the current spring commencement – is also a record breaker for the university with 6,508 students receiving degrees. The previous high was 2011-12 with 6,251 degrees awarded for the full academic year.

Some other records for the overall class of 2015-16 include 697 African-American graduates; 336 Hispanic graduates; 3,485 female graduates; and 148 degrees being awarded to veterans. Other record highs include the largest number of degrees awarded to Pelican Promise Award recipients at 612 students and the highest number of undergraduate degrees awarded to TOPS recipients at 3,338 students.

LSU’s May 2016 graduating class represents 61 Louisiana parishes, 46 U.S. states and 61 foreign countries. Women made up 54.16 percent of the class, and men made up 45.84 percent. The oldest graduate is 81, and the youngest is 20.

LSU President F. King Alexander presided over the main ceremony and delivered the keynote address. LSU Board of Supervisors member James Moore 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 Brass Quintet. Gregory Gallagher, candidate for Doctor of Musical Art, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the LSU alma mater.

During his speech to the graduates, Alexander talked about how the graduates are needed to make the world a better place and how by using their skills, talents and tools, the graduates can have “ripple effects around this nation and globe.”

“As one of the world’s most educated citizens with the greatest potential to help others, you now are being handed a mantle enabling you to provide widespread hope and global opportunity,” Alexander said. “Every one of us here today has great faith in you and what we know you will accomplish for many are in need of your talents and your wisdom.”

Alexander commended the graduates on their accomplishments and welcomed the them to the nation’s top 32nd percentile and the world’s top 7th percentile in educational achievement and success.

“The LSU family wishes you the best of luck in these endeavors and will take great pride in all that you accomplish,” he said. “And remember that you are never alone in this path toward greater success and global impact – your alma mater forever stands strong behind you each step of the way.”

A number of diploma ceremonies had keynote speakers this year, including:

  • Landscape Architecture alumnus Lewis May, who spoke at the College of Art & Design ceremony;
  • Louisiana Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne, who  spoke at the Manship School of Mass Communication ceremony;
  • LSU Executive Vice President & Provost Richard Koubek, who spoke at the College of Science Ceremony;
  • Electrical engineering graduate Daniel Lepkowski, a native of Virginia Beach, Va., who received an NSF Graduate Fellowship, who spoke at the College of Engineering ceremony.

Four-hundred-and-sixty-nine students graduated with honors, including 64 students who received University Medals for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class.

This semester, 64 students earned College Honors and five students earned Upper Division Honors Distinction from the LSU Roger Hadfield Ogden Honors College. These students participated in a specific honors program and successfully completed and defended an undergraduate thesis.

LSU honored 56 graduating students with the LSU Distinguished Communicator Award during a ceremony on May 12. 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.

Also during a ceremony on May 12, LSU’s ROTC cadets were commissioned. Six of the graduates participated in the LSU Army ROTC program and six of the graduates participated in the LSU Air Force ROTC program. In addition, four LSU students who participated in Southern University’s Navy ROTC program were commissioned at a ceremony at Southern.

Some notable spring 2016 graduates included 2014 Truman Scholarship recipient and Scoville Peace Fellow Marlee Pittman, a native of Baton Rouge who graduated from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences; 2015 Truman Scholarship recipient Michael Beyer, a native of New Orleans who graduated from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences; Fulbright Binational Internship recipient Valencia Richardson, a native of Shreveport who graduated from the Manship School of Mass Communication; and 2015 Goldwater Scholarship recipient and NSF Graduate Research Fellow Mollie Smoak, a native of Lafayette who graduated from the College of Engineering. In addition to Smoak and Lepkowski, other recent NSF Graduate Research Fellows who graduated this spring include Kurt Ristroph, a native of Baton Rouge; Jennifer Kenyon, a native of Marrero; and Katie Hogan, a native of Choudrant.

For more information on commencement, visit For a list of graduates, please visit The list includes graduates who have authorized the release of their names.



Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations