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WKU’s 179th Commencement concludes with undergraduate ceremonies

WKU recognized more than 1,800 graduates in its Class of 2016 and presented two honorary doctorates on Saturday as the 179th Commencement concluded with three undergraduate ceremonies.

WKU's 179th Commencement concluded with three undergraduate ceremonies on May 14. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

WKU’s 179th Commencement concluded with three undergraduate ceremonies on May 14. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

During morning, afternoon and evening ceremonies at Diddle Arena, WKU conferred 1,714 bachelor’s degrees, 82 associate degrees and 44 undergraduate certificates.

President Gary Ransdell reminded the Class of 2016 that their lives have been shaped by the WKU experience and that WKU has been shaped by their influence since they arrived on campus. “You gained a broader and more complex perspective of humanity and cultural diversity,” Dr. Ransdell said. “You were enlightened by others from across Kentucky, the nation and the globe. And even in a growing age of online learning, you grew from the human exchange of ideas and ideals. In turn, your thoughts and perspectives impacted the lives of others. 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 live and work, those in your local community, across your home state, and throughout this nation and other nations during the next few decades.”

WKU President Gary Ransdell delivered remarks at the May 14 ceremonies. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

WKU President Gary Ransdell delivered remarks at the May 14 ceremonies. (WKU photo by Clinton Lewis)

The Saturday morning ceremony included graduates of Ogden College of Science and Engineering and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; the afternoon ceremony included graduates of Potter College of Arts & Letters and University College; and the evening ceremony included graduates of Gordon Ford College of Business and the College of Health and Human Services. More: Commencement program

WKU also presented the Ogden Foundation Scholar award to Jessica L. Canada of Williamsburg, who received concurrent degrees with a major in Management and Economics; recognized 55 Scholars of the College; recognized international graduates and students who had studied abroad; announced faculty award winners and faculty retirees; and commissioned ROTC cadets during Saturday’s ceremonies.

At Friday night’s graduate ceremony, WKU conferred 30 doctor of physical therapy, seven doctor of nursing practice, six doctor of education, 614 master’s and nine specialist in education degrees and 58 graduate certificates for a weekend total of 2,564 spring and summer graduates.

Honorary doctorates

WKU presented honorary doctorates to Dr. C. June Maker, a WKU graduate known for her contributions to gifted education, and John Kelly, founding member of the Kelly Autism Program.

Dr. C. June Maker

Dr. C. June Maker

Dr. Maker, who received an honorary Doctor of Letters degree at the morning ceremony, began a teaching career in her hometown of Caneyville after receiving her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1970. Dr. Maker is a professor of Special Education in the Disability and Psychoeducational Studies Department at the University of Arizona and coordinates a doctoral degree program in education of the gifted and teaches courses in professional writing for doctoral students. Dr. Maker’s 1976 work Providing Programs for Gifted Handicapped was groundbreaking in the fields of special and gifted education and the concept of twice-exceptional children continues to develop today. In 2015, she received the International Research Award from the World Council for the Gifted and Talented (WCGT). She has been active in and served in leadership positions in national and international organizations for gifted children and serves on editorial boards for national and international journals in education of the gifted. She has conducted research on performance-based assessments, implementation of multiple intelligences theory and creativity development.

John Kelly

John Kelly

Kelly, an advocate for children and families with special needs both within the Bowling Green/Warren County community and beyond, received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree at the evening ceremony. The Kelly Autism Program was established in 2002 to prepare adolescents and young adults diagnosed along the Autism Spectrum Disorder Continuum to effectively and successfully transition to a purposeful, fulfilling life after their public school years. Since KAP’s inception the number of annual participants has grown to approximately 130, including more than 40 college students regularly attending WKU. Kelly was among the individuals who envisioned what later became the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex, which provides support for individuals with developmental delays and disabilities as well as their families. Kelly is a member of the College of Health and Human Services Board of Stakeholders, College of Education and Behavioral Sciences Advisory Board, WKU Board of Advisors and Clinical Education Complex Board. He and his wife established the John and Linda Kelly Charitable Foundation and support many community organizations.

Faculty awards and recognition

Provost David Lee recognized the following faculty award winners, who will be formally honored at the fall convocation: Dr. Audrey Anton, Philosophy and Religion, excellence in teaching; Dr. Timothy Rich, Political Science, excellence in research/creativity; Dr. Patricia Minter, History, excellence in public service; Dr. David LeNoir, English, excellence in student advising; and Laura Houchens, English, excellence as part-time instructor.

Walker Rutledge, professor of English, was recognized as the first recipient of the undergraduate mentoring award.

Dr. Lee also recognized the following faculty members who are retiring: Dr. Bill Scott, Music; Dr. Ed Bohlander, Sociology; Dr. Tom Noser, Economics; and Dr. Brian Sullivan, Management.

ROTC commissioning

During the weekend ceremonies, the WKU ROTC program commissioned eight cadets.

WKU ROTC commissioned four cadets during the afternoon ceremony on May 14. Eight cadets were commissioned during the weekend ceremonies. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

WKU ROTC commissioned four cadets during the afternoon ceremony on May 14. Eight cadets were commissioned during the weekend ceremonies. (WKU photo by Bryan Lemon)

The following graduates were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army on Saturday: Cory Kleinjan of Taylorsville, assigned to Fort Gordon, Georgia; Crystal Falefata of Radcliff, assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina; Jonathon Pedigo of Franklin, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; Hussein Rammal of Louisville, assigned to Fort Benning, Georgia; Nicolas Sousa of Vine Grove, assigned to Fort Jackson, South Carolina; and John Bailey of Mount Washington, assigned to Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

On Friday night, Desean Hughes of Bowling Green was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army and assigned to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Meghan Witten of Louisville was commissioned as nurse in the U.S. Air Force and assigned to Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.

WKU also recognized all veterans and those serving in the U.S. military.

Commencement notes

The Class of 2016 included 96 international students from 21 countries (an additional 93 students from 18 countries were part of Friday night’s ceremony) and 367 students who had studied abroad in more than 40 countries.

Sociology Professor John Faine, a faculty member for 43 years, served as chief marshal for the morning and evening ceremonies. English Professor Walker Rutledge, a faculty member for 47 years, served as chief marshal for the afternoon ceremony.

WKU also recognized graduates from its regional campuses in Glasgow, Elizabethtown-Fort Knox and Glasgow.

The Class of 2016 included 77 WKU student-athletes with an average cumulative grade-point average of 3.23. Eight of the 77 received master’s degrees while two others received doctoral degrees in physical therapy.

Each graduate was given a Class of 2016 red towel to wave at the conclusion of the ceremonies.

In addition to WKU ceremonies, The Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky recognized 58 students from 38 counties in the Class of 2016, its ninth graduating class.

Upcoming regional campus ceremonies

WKU Elizabethtown/Fort Knox will host a commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. (Eastern time) May 16 at the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center, 384 W. Jenkins Road, Elizabethtown. Student speaker will be May graduate Shameka A. Hardin of Rineyville, who is receiving a bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

WKU Owensboro will host a commencement ceremony at 6:30 p.m. May 16 at the RiverPark Center, 101 Daviess St., Owensboro. Keynote speaker will be Dr. Dennis George, Associate Provost for Regional Higher Education. Student speaker will be Jennifer Bowlds of Utica who is receiving a Master of Social Work degree. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Social Work at WKU Owensboro in summer 2015.

Contact: Registrar, (270) 745-3351

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