Biggest graduating class, bright futures celebrated at spring commencement

May 24, 2014 | General News




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It was only fitting that Saturday was one of the biggest days in the lives of 957 new Louisiana Tech University graduates.

That’s because Louisiana Tech’s 308th Commencement Exercises featured its largest graduating class ever, resulting in a packed Thomas Assembly Center with nearly 10,000 graduates, faculty, family and friends in attendance to celebrate Tech’s newest group of alumni.  A total of 966 degrees were conferred, which included nine dual degrees and 11 doctorates.

957 graduates celebrated at Louisiana Tech's spring commencement

957 graduates celebrated at Louisiana Tech’s spring commencement

Before introducing keynote speaker Dan Reneau, president emeritus at Louisiana Tech, President Les Guice let the graduates know just how big a day it was.

“Many of those who began their college careers with you are not here today,” Guice said.  “You set goals and you devoted yourself to countless hours of studies and research.  You’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime and created incredible lasting memories of your time at Louisiana Tech. As you move on in life, you’ll forget many of the details from this ceremony, but you will never forget today.”

It was also a big day for a distinguished alumnus and three Louisiana Tech faculty members who were all honored during the graduation program.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame was honored with the Tower Medallion Award and became the 74th inductee into Louisiana Tech’s Hall of Distinguished Alumni. Robertson could not attend due to a previous commitment, but his wife, Kay, and son, Alan, were in attendance to accept his award.

SGA President Allison East receives her diploma from President Les Guice

SGA President Allison East receives her diploma from President Les Guice

History professor and interim associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts Dr. Stephen Webre was presented with the Louisiana Tech University Foundation Professorship Award, engineering professor Dr. Michael Swanbom was presented with the F.J. Taylor Undergraduate Teaching Award and Journalism Department Head Dr. Reginald Owens was honored with the Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award.

Reneau, who retired as Louisiana Tech’s president last June, broke his keynote speech into three parts: why Louisiana Tech’s newest graduates are special, the world they’re living in and issuing a challenge for the new degree holders to move forward.

“This is the 27th consecutive May I’ve stood at this podium (during graduation), although it’s in a slightly different situation today,” said Reneau.  “But of all the classes I’ve addressed, I think I’m probably prouder of this class than any other.  Some of you have been around here six years; you came here in 2008 or a little later, or transferred in.  And you’re a historic class.

“You are all graduating with first rate degrees from a first rate, Tier I university, and now is the perfect time to make your marks in the world.  These are fantastic times you live and are graduating in, and you’ve been well prepared in your studies.”

Reneau concluded by issuing a challenge to the new graduates.

“I challenge you to take what this staff and administration has given to you and what this university stands for,” Reneau said.  “You possess a first-rate education. And not only do you possess a first-rate education in your respective fields, but also a first-rate education in how to live life.  My challenge is for you to take all that and go out and provide the leadership that is so needed throughout the world.”

While it was a big day for all of Louisiana Tech’s new graduates, it was particularly big for the family of new College of Applied and Natural Sciences graduate Jordan Lee and her family.

“During the recent College of Applied and Natural Sciences awards ceremonies in April, Jordan’s parents were here to see their daughter Jordan receive her stethoscope from Tech Professor Dr. William Green, recognizing her acceptance to veterinary school,” said Louisiana Tech Registrar Bob Vento.  “The next morning, Mrs. Lee came to see me with a question about whether we could confer a degree on her husband for previous work completed.”

Dr. Charles Ivy Lee was a student at Louisiana Tech University from the summer of 1977 through the spring of 1980, when he received early admission to LSUHSC-NO Medical School. He graduated from LSUHSC-NO Medical School in 1983.  Some Louisiana institutions have a tradition of accepting first year professional school work to transfer and apply toward fourth year baccalaureate work where, and if, subject matter applicable and permit conferral of the baccalaureate degree if all discipline-specific degree requirements are met.

“We’ve accommodated that for years with medical, dental and veterinary early admits, but the reality is, not many look back and do that once they earn their professional credentials,” explained Vento.  “Following a review of transcripts, College of Applied and Natural Sciences Dean James Liberatos recommended that a baccalaureate in biology be approved for conferral to Dr. Lee during the Spring Commencement program.”

So on Saturday, Dr. Lee, a practicing anesthesiologist from Huntsville, Alabama, walked the stage immediately preceding his daughter and received his long-awaited baccalaureate degree.

Spring commencement officially marked the end of the spring quarter and 2013-2014 academic year.  Summer quarter classes will begin on June 4.
Written by T. Scott Boatright –