CORVALLIS — College graduation is a turning point, a time to reflect on the past and prepare to make a leap of faith into an unknown future.
At Oregon State University’s 150th commencement ceremony Saturday morning, a number of speakers took the opportunity to touch on the institution’s past while advising the latest graduating class on how best to approach the future.
President Ed Ray, in a nod to the university’s founding in 1868, began his remarks by acknowledging that the campus was built on the ancestral lands of the Marys River Band of Kalapuya Indians, who were forcibly removed from the area after the signing of an 1855 treaty.
He also called attention to how far the university has come in the century and a half from its first graduating class in 1870, which consisted of three people (two men and a woman), to the Class of 2019, which boasted a record 7,202 graduates.
Nearly 4,200 of those graduates, dressed in their academic regalia, were seated on the field at OSU’s Reser Stadium under sunny skies to receive their degrees on Saturday.
The official attendance estimate was 27,500 to 29,000, making it the second-largest crowd ever to attend commencement at Oregon State. The record, estimated at 33,000, was set when first lady Michelle Obama was the commencement speaker in 2012.
Rani Borkar, the chair of OSU’s Board of Trustees, called the university’s 150th commencement “an incredible milestone for this hallowed institution” and advised the graduating class to take stock of who they’ve become during their time at the university before taking the plunge into the world of work.
“It is important to know what you believe in, your self-identity and your value system,” she said from the podium.
“These are the foundations of a purposeful life and your anchors in a changing world.”
OSU distinguished professor Jane Lubchenco, a world-renowned marine ecologist and widely respected expert on climate change and the ocean, gave this year’s commencement address. Both Lubchenco and Pat Reser, the former chair of the OSU Board of Trustees and, with her late husband, Al, one of the university’s most generous financial supporters, received honorary doctorates during the ceremony.
In addition to earning their academic degrees, 35 graduates who completed the ROTC program also earned their commissions as junior officers in the U.S. armed forces. As they stood to recite their oaths of office, they received a standing ovation from the audience.
There were cheers as well for those receiving master’s and doctoral degrees, but the loudest ovation of the day was reserved for the moment when President Ray invited several thousand graduates receiving bachelor’s degrees to move their tassels to the left side of their mortarboards.
Ray concluded his remarks with what has become his traditional sendoff to each year’s graduating class: “I wish each and every one of you a wonderful life enriched by honorable service.”
Among those earning degrees were 35 students who either list Philomath as their hometown or city of residence.
Local students earning degrees include:
• Aaron J. Asunsolo, bachelor of science, finance; Logan M. Bernart, master of science, wood science; Rika T. Bierek, master of public health, public health; Zoe M. Clegg, bachelor of fine arts, summa cum laude, applied visual arts; Devin Z. Daeschel, bachelor of science, cum laude, microbiology.
• Breanna L. Davis, bachelor of science, human development and family sciences; Benjamin M. Dodge, bachelor of science, finance; Anne M. Esterberg, bachelor of science, psychology; Hayley C. Fields, bachelor of science, management; Matthew T. Gerding, bachelor of science, management.
• Aaron J. Goschie, bachelor of science, magna cum laude, physics; Stephanie K. Grissom, master of science, comparative health sciences; John T. Hanson, master of science, kinesiology; Karima A. Hobbs, bachelor of science, public health; Lillie G. Hoffman, bachelor of science, cum laude, chemical engineering.
• Leland M. Holden, bachelor of science, music; Kristen L. Holderman, bachelor of science, management; Aaron D. Kildea, bachelor of science, mechanical engineering; Megan L. Kilgore, bachelor of science, summa cum laude, sociology; James A. Knowles, bachelor of science, cum laude, economics.
• Colleen J. Kutzler, honors bachelor of science, magna cum laude, animal sciences; Michelle A. Kutzler, master of business administration, business administration; Shea B. Looper, bachelor of science, cum laude, education, bachelor of science, cum laude, human development and family sciences; Walker A. Maddalozzo, bachelor of science, civil engineering; Brenna R. Marshall, bachelor of science, public health.
• Camille F. Miedema, bachelor of science, management; Iva I. Murphree, bachelor of science, finance; Melanie F. Nichol, master of arts, applied anthropology; Trevor J. Rose, bachelor of science, cum laude, mechanical engineering; Susan R. Rowe, doctor of philosophy, environmental science.
• Megan E. Schmidt, bachelor of science, public health; Sydney A. Seim, bachelor of science, cum laude, animal sciences; Mikayla K. Stark, bachelor of arts, summa cum laude, Spanish, bachelor of science, summa cum laude, human development and family sciences; Tres A. Tinkle, bachelor of science, speech communication; Eleas M. Wu, master of science, comparative health sciences.