LSU Awards a Record Number of Degrees During Spring Commencement

University awards 4,163 degrees in the spring and sets record of 6,562 degrees awarded during academic year



In addition to the most degrees ever awarded, the class of 2016-17 broke a number of records for LSU, including the most degrees awarded to women, African American and Asian American students. Photo: LSU

BATON ROUGE – LSU graduated its largest and most diverse class at the university’s 292nd commencement exercises on Friday, May 12.

At the spring commencement ceremony, a total of 4,163 degrees were awarded – the largest amount of degrees awarded at a single commencement surpassing last year’s 4,043 degrees awarded in the spring. The overall class of 2016-17 – students receiving degrees in previous summer and fall commencements combined with the current spring commencement – is also a record breaker for the university with 6,562 students receiving degrees. The previous high was 2015-16 with 6,444 degrees awarded for the full academic year.

In addition, the overall class of 2016-17 included the most degrees awarded to women, African American and Asian American students.

LSU’s May 2017 graduating class represents 53 Louisiana parishes, 48 U.S. states and 50 foreign countries. Women made up 57.34 percent of the class, and men made up 42.66 percent. The oldest graduate is 66, and the youngest is 19.

The 4,163 total graduates are made up of 3,308 students who received bachelor’s degrees; 621 who received master’s degrees; 19 who received education specialist or graduate certificates; 96 who received a Ph.D.; 13 who received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree; 84 who received Doctor of Veterinary Medicine; and 22 who received post-baccalaureate certificates. Also, 26 LSU employees were among those who received degrees this spring.

Gov. Edwards

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards delivered the keynote address and asked the graduates to live with heart, purpose and passion. Photo: LSU

LSU President F. King Alexander presided over the main ceremony, and Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards delivered the keynote address. LSU Board of Supervisors member Glenn J. Armentor 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. Lauren Brown, candidate for Doctor of Musical Art, performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the LSU alma mater.

Edwards, who said delivering the commencement address at LSU is a privilege for him, asked the graduates to live with heart, purpose and passion.

“Our future looks very, very bright from here,” Edwards said. “It’s noteworthy that this class has broken numerous records this year.”

In addition to the diversity records, Edwards noted that the spring 2017 class includes the most TOPS recipients of any graduating class since the program began. He asked the class to join him in fighting for education more broadly so the students beyond the 2017 class would have more opportunities in Louisiana.

“I believe in each and every one of you because you have heart ... You are an indispensable part of what makes the great state of Louisiana great,” Edwards said.

Edwards encouraged the graduates, no matter where they go, to not only be an advocate for LSU, but a champion for Louisiana.

“Please take advantage of this opportunity,” he said. “Find ways, great and small, to make our world a better place. The spirit of LSU will live inside you forever. I hope you use that spirit to do good and to dream big.”

Zachary Faircloth

Immediate Past Student Body President Zachary Faircloth addressed his fellow graduates and highlighted the growth and resiliency he's seen at LSU over the past four-plus years. Photo: LSU

Outgoing Student Body President Zachary Faircloth also addressed his fellow graduates during the main ceremony. He highlighted the growth his class has seen at LSU, and the resiliency the class has shown over the past four-plus years.  

“We’ve all played a part in contributing to the story that is LSU,” Faircloth said. “Those who came before us laid the groundwork, as those who come after us will add to it as well. But as LSU moves onto its next chapter, I’m confident that ours’ is one that will always be remembered. Tigers of 2017, as we walk across the stage today and into the next phase of life lets be thankful for the time we had here at LSU.”

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

  • Renee Horton, NASA Michoud Assembly Facility space launch system lead metallic and weld engineer, who spoke at the College of Engineering ceremony;
  • Gracia Maria Shiffrin, LSU alumna and Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, who spoke at the College of Art & Design ceremony;
  • Renée Edelman, senior vice president at Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm, who spoke at the Manship School of Mass Communication ceremony;
  • Dr. Bill Cassidy, United States Senator from Louisiana, who spoke at the College of Science ceremony.

During the College of Engineering ceremony, the Sean O’Keefe Leadership Award was presented to Faircloth, an electrical engineering and political science major with a minor in Spanish from Pineville, La., and Christopher Dedo, an industrial engineering major minors in business administration and technical sales from Lafayette, La.

The Sean O’Keefe Leadership Award was created by LSU donors who recognized the leadership in former LSU Chancellor Sean O’Keefe during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  The award is designed to recognize and reward the outstanding LSU undergraduate student leader who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in the past and possesses the character, capability, vision and motivation to be a leader in the future.

During the College of Art & Design ceremony, Suzanne Wilbert Turner was recognized with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Turner, who graduated from LSU with a bachelor’s degree in English in 1947, has dedicated much of her life since then to the arts, education and cultural preservation. She has served on numerous boards at the local, state and national level including several affiliated with LSU. Her generous financial support has contributed to beautification and preservation efforts in Baton Rouge and throughout the state.

Five-hundred-forty-nine students graduated with honors including 85 students who received University Medals for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class.

LSU honored 50 graduating students with the LSU Distinguished Communicator Award during a ceremony on Thursday, May 11. 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 11, LSU’s ROTC cadets were commissioned. Ten 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.

This semester, 60 students earned College Honors and six 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.

For more information on commencement, visit




Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations