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WKU’s 175th Commencement concludes with 3 ceremonies

Members of WKU's Class of 2014 waved red towels to celebrate at the conclusion of undergraduate ceremonies on May 17. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

Members of WKU’s Class of 2014 waved red towels to celebrate at the conclusion of undergraduate ceremonies on May 17. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

WKU conferred degrees to its largest spring baccalaureate graduating class ever on Saturday as three undergraduate ceremonies wrapped up the University’s 175th Commencement.

In morning, afternoon and evening ceremonies, WKU conferred 1,545 baccalaureate degrees, 120 associate degrees and 33 undergraduate certificates. On Friday night, WKU conferred nearly 450 doctoral, master’s and specialist degrees and about 50 graduate certificates for a weekend total of nearly 2,200.

President Gary Ransdell congratulated members of the Class of 2014 and reminded them that their lives and their futures have been shaped by the WKU experience.

“When you arrived on campus as a new freshman or as a transfer student or as a non-traditional student returning to higher education you most likely had a pre-conceived notion of what college life would be like at WKU,” Dr. Ransdell said. “However, as those first few weeks and months passed, the life of this university began to meld with yours. You gained a broader and more diverse perspective of humanity and of ideals. You were enlightened by others from across Kentucky, the nation and the globe. And in turn, your thoughts and your perspectives impacted the lives of others with whom you were sharing your WKU experience.

“With these new experiences and knowledge, perhaps some of your viewpoints shifted. And it was through this process of giving and sharing, discovering and learning, that you have become prepared to lead those with whom you will work in the future, those in your local community, across your home state, throughout this nation or across the globe over the next few decades.”

WKU conducted a morning ceremony for graduates of the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and Ogden College of Science and Engineering; an afternoon ceremony for graduates of the Potter College of Arts & Letters and University College; and an evening ceremony for graduates of the College of Health and Human Services and Gordon Ford College of Business. Each graduate was given a Class of 2014 red towel to wave at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Ogden Foundation Scholar

Charles “Chad” Coomer of Louisville, who majored in biology and chemistry and minored in music as a student in the Honors College at WKU, was recognized as the Ogden Foundation Scholar at the morning ceremony.

Chad Coomer

Chad Coomer

WKU’s top academic honor is presented to one graduating baccalaureate degree senior who has demonstrated exceptional academic achievement and outstanding university and civic engagement.

Coomer, the son of Don and Evell Coomer, has received a U.S. Student Fulbright grant to the United Kingdom to complete his master’s degree in infection and immunity at University College London. He has also been accepted into the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, which will allow him to pursue a doctorate in virology at the University of Oxford while conducting HIV research at Oxford and the NIH. He also was the recipient of a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship while at WKU and was a violinist on the Symphony at WKU’s tour of China in 2013.

Coomer was recognized as a Scholar of the College in the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. He was one of 34 students recognized during the undergraduate ceremonies. (Read more about the Class of 2014 Scholars of the College.)

ROTC commissioning

The Hilltopper Battalion Army ROTC program commissioned 14 cadets as second lieutenants. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

The Hilltopper Battalion Army ROTC program commissioned 14 cadets as second lieutenants. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

In a fitting ceremony on Armed Forces Day, 14 Hilltopper Battalion Army ROTC cadets were commissioned as second lieutenants: Harrison Bailey of Henderson; Hannah Brantley of Salem; Jordan Chick of Russellville; Micah Farmer of Upton; Ryan Hunton of Bowling Green; Luke Jean of Hopkinsville; Samuel Kissinger of Alvaton; Matthew Kline of Effingham, Ill.; Charles Martin of Central City; Joshua Miller of Bowling Green; Shawn Powell of Bowling Green; Jeffrey Scales of Newburgh, Ind.; Jacob Soler of Bowling Green; Sean Tedtaotao of Chalan Pago, Guam.

Members of WKU’s Class of 2014 who have served in the military wore red, white and blue honor cords. All veterans and those serving in the military were recognized at each ceremony.

International reach

The undergraduate ceremonies included 34 international students from 21 countries. Friday night’s graduate ceremony included 66 international students from 24 countries. The flags of the United States and those nations were carried in the opening processionals.

WKU also recognized members of the Class of 2014 who had studied abroad. This year, 648 WKU students studied abroad in 47 countries.

Faculty awards

Provost Gordon Emslie recognized the following faculty award winners, who will be formally honored at the fall convocation: Dr. Summer Bateiha, Department of Mathematics, excellence in teaching; Dr. Rezaul Mahmood, Department of Geography and Geology, excellence in research/creativity; Dr. Bryan Reaka, Department of Architectural and Manufacturing Sciences, excellence in public service; and Dr. Grace Lartey, Department of Public Health, excellence in student advising.

Dr. Emslie also recognized the following faculty members who are retiring: Ginny Pfohl, Department of Psychology; Dr. Lou-Ann Crouther, Department of English; Jim LeTourneau, School of Journalism & Broadcasting; Linda Sparks, Department of Academic Support; Dr. Joe Trafton, Department of Philosophy and Religion; Paula Trafton, School of Professional Studies.

Commencement notes

The weekend ceremonies were the final ones coordinated by University Registrar Freida Eggleton who is retiring after 28 years in the position. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

The weekend ceremonies were the final ones coordinated by University Registrar Freida Eggleton who is retiring after 28 years in the position. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

  • The ceremonies were final ones coordinated by University Registrar Freida Eggleton who is retiring after 28 years in the position. Eggleton has worked at WKU since 1974.
  • English professor Mary Ellen Miller, a member of the WKU faculty for 51 years, led the grand march to open each ceremony.
  • Members of the Class of 1964 who were on campus for the Golden Anniversary Club Reunion were recognized at the morning ceremony.
  • The weekend ceremonies included 76 WKU student-athletes who had an average cumulative GPA of 3.17, including seven with a 4.0 GPA.
  • In addition to WKU ceremonies, on Saturday afternoon the Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky recognized 48 students from 32 counties in the Class of 2014, its seventh graduating class.
  • Additional photos from the ceremonies are posted on the WKU Facebook page.

Upcoming regional campus ceremonies

  • WKU Elizabethtown/Fort Knox will host a commencement ceremony at 6 p.m. (Eastern time) Monday (May 19) at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center, located at John Hardin High School, 384 W.A. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown. Randi Robey Wells, an interdisciplinary studies major from Elizabethtown, will deliver remarks. Sergeant First Class Joseph Kochanski, an interdisciplinary studies major from Vine Grove, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • WKU Owensboro will host a commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Monday (May 19) at the RiverPark Center, 101 Daviess St., Owensboro. Guest speaker will be state Sen. Joe Bowen of Owensboro. The WKU RedShirts will perform at the ceremony.

Contact: Freida Eggleton, (270) 745-3351.

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