Final graduation marks personal event for Ransdell

Rebekah Alvey

Three undergraduate commencement ceremonies were held Saturday in Diddle Arena, where over 2,600 students became alumni to WKU.

The ceremonies were split into three times for the different majors. Potter College of Arts and Letter and the University College had their ceremony at 9:30am. Gordon Ford College of Business and College of Health and Human Services had their ceremony at 2:00pm. College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and Ogden College of Science and Engineering was the final ceremony at 6:00pm.

The final ceremony was not only the last for graduates, but the final commencement for President Gary Ransdell after his 20 year tenure.

During his opening remarks, Ransdell drew attention to all the supporters and parents in the audience as well as the diversity among graduates. Ransdell had first generation, single parents, international students and students who studied abroad stand up.

Ransdell cited this diversity as proof that WKU is a university with international reach.

Further remarks were made by Jay Todd Richey, outgoing Student Government Association President. Richey emphasized taking control of your future and the importance of graduating with a college degree.

“It is up to you to show the power of a university education,” Richey said.

After a video reflection of the class of 2017, Provost David Lee acknowledged faculty and staff before the conferral of degrees by Ransdell and Frederick Higdon, chair of the Board of Regents.

In his reflection, Ransdell discussed how this graduation was just as personal for him as it was for graduates. Ransdell said in his tenure he has awarded 44% of degrees in the history of WKU, about 66,540 degrees.

Ransdell said that he will most remember the spirit of WKU as displayed in students.

“To watch you grow, learn and thrive has been special,” Ransdell said.

Ransdell told a story about an audience member who had been a part of his first graduation that had a student graduating at his last and how important it was to the family.

In his reflection, Ransdell explained the importance of the WKU motto, “life, more life.” Ransdell encouraged graduates to life their lives abundantly and to push themselves while also being involved in the lives of others.

Bryan Baysinger, president of the alumni association introduced the graduates into the role of alumni. Baysinger encouraged them to keep the WKU spirit alive and work to give future students similar opportunities.

Rasndell explained the significance and tradition of the red towel after degrees were awarded to the graduates. Ransdell said they are a symbol of pride, spirit and loyalty.

The final part of the ceremony included students displaying this pride and spirit by waving the red towels.

Before the ceremony concluded, Julie and President Ransdell said a few final words of appreciation.

“Happiness is a treasured goal in life, you’ve provided this for us,” Ransdell said.

 Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].