More than 860 new MTSU graduates walked across the stage in Murphy Center Aug. 13 to receive their diplomas during the university’s 101st summer commencement ceremony.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee welcomed guests and congratulated the graduates on reaching this milestone, then families and friends of the graduates to stand and be recognized.
“We are approaching 100 years of service to the students in this state, nation and beyond,” McPhee said. “There are three themes that we live by here at MTSU: pride, tradition and excellence. Today we reflect on pride. We are proud of our faculty, students and alumni. We are a family.”
MTSU is the second-largest producer of graduates for Tennessee’s workforce and the No. 1 contributor to the workforce in middle Tennessee, the president said, adding that 70 percent of MTSU graduates stay, live and work in the Midstate.
The high expectations that accompany the new graduates were the focus of Dr. Warner Cribb’s commencement address.
“My graduation gift to you is that my speech will be brief,” the geosciences professor and 2010-11 Faculty Senate president began. He kept his promise.
Cribb said one of his students suggested that he speak on what has changed the most during the professor’s 18 years at MTSU. Cribb took the advice.
“The most important change at MTSU is not new buildings, the growth in enrollment or new programs or success of our athletic teams,” he said.
“I think the most important change that has occurred on this campus over the past 18 years is that today, everyone on this campus — the faculty, administration, staff, coaches and the students — all have the expectation that MTSU is as good as any university in this country.
“Eighteen years ago, our kids were graduating from a well-respected regional university,” Cribb continued. “Today, you are graduating from a well-respected national university. That is a huge difference. That means wherever you go in this country, from this day forward, the expectation is that your degree will be respected at the very highest levels. And you will find that respect extended to you as an MTSU alumnus.
“When you walk across the stage and you shake Dr. McPhee’s hand and you shake your dean’s hand, those are not just handshakes of congratulations,” the veteran professor continued.
“Those are reminders that our expectations for you will not change just because you are leaving campus. Our expectation is that you, our alumni, will successfully represent this university across this nation throughout your entire lifetime. That is the privilege that comes with graduating from MTSU in the year 2011.”
Cribb congratulated the new graduates and wished them well, then said, simply, “I’m done.”
Before handing out the diplomas, McPhee recognized student groups, including those associated with the new Senior Class MTSU Gift Challenge.
“These students have made a personal financial gift to the university,” McPhee said. “Funds donated by this class will provide financial assistance to a graduate student next year. Please join me in thanking these students for this important investment in MTSU.”
— Tom Tozer, Thomas.Tozer@ mtsu.edu