MURRAY, Ky. - Murray State University's December 2016 Commencement ceremony was celebrated on Saturday, Dec. 10, in the CFSB Center on the Murray campus. During the commencement program, the University awarded an honorary doctorate degree to alumna Dr. Jerry Sue Thornton, recognized the achievements of the 2016 Outstanding Students, and acknowledged the 2016 Distinguished Faculty.
A total of 1,195 graduates were recognized as 52 different counties in Kentucky, 22 states and 14 countries were represented. Among the graduates were 40 veterans, 165 who graduated with honors and 18 graduates of the Honors College.
The ceremony formally began with the Presentation of Colors by the Paducah Tilghman High School NJROTC Color Guard. Shown at right below, Murray State President Dr. Robert Davies presided over the ceremony with a message for graduates and a Residential College investiture. He and Acting Provost Dr. Renae Duncan administered the awarding of degrees.
In addressing the graduates, Davies said, "Today, it is about the belief in yourself. It is the belief that others have in you as they have helped you along the way to this day. It is the belief in you, the belief that you can do anything that you set your mind to and do something greater and grander than before. It is the belief, that when you work with others, that when you accept others for their talents that they have, when you embrace others who are different than you, you will achieve more, you will reach higher, and strive further, and you will gain a deeper appreciation and understanding and most importantly, you will trust more. It is the belief in yourself, and in humanity, that will enable you to impact the world for the greater good."
At left, Dr. Thornton delivered the Commencement Address and received an honorary doctorate from the University. Thornton is CEO of DreamCatcher Educational Consulting Service where she coaches and provides professional development for new college and university presidents. A native Kentuckian, she earned bachelors and master's degrees from Murray State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She most recently completed her five-year term as a Murray State University Regent and received the Murray State University Diversity Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. Over $11,000 in support has been given to the Jerry Sue and John Barlow Pritchett Minority Scholarship fund in honor of Dr. Thornton's recognition.
In addressing the graduates, Thornton said, "Take the time to reflect on how much you did and how much it took to get to where you are today and into your future...dream bigger than you can even imagine, because that future is out there for you, and then prepare to move toward that future with gusto."
The Mace Bearer was Dr. Daniel Wann, Murray State's Distinguished Professor and a faculty member in the department of psychology through the College of Humanities and Fine Arts.
Outstanding Seniors Kimberly Taylor, left, and Dakota Moore, right, led the candidates for degrees and also gave the valedictions. Taylor, daughter of Jerry and Celia Taylor of Goshen, Ky., received a Bachelor of Science in Accounting with a Finance option. Moore, son of Darin and Channa Moore of Smyrna, Tn., received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Science with a Horticulture option. They were both recipients of the Honors Medallion and graduated summa cum laude.
Faculty Marshals assisting with the ceremony were Professors Susana Bloomdahl, Heath Keller, Michael Kemp, Robert Lyons, Matt Shultz and Gill Welsch.
Faculty were led in by the recipients of The Regents Teaching Awards for Excellence: Dr. Heath Keller, Jeffrey Wylie, Dr. Jana Hackathorn, Dr. Danielle Nielsen and Dr. Christopher Mecklin.
They were joined by Presidential Research Fellows Dr. James Duane Bolin and Dr. Bommanna Loganathan, Distinguished Researcher Dr. Howard Whiteman, University Distinguished Mentor Dr. David Pizzo, University Emerging Scholars Dr. Randall Bunker and Dr. Joshua Ridley, Faculty Advisor of the Year Dr. Michelle Santiago and the recipient of the Faculty Distinguished Service award, Dr. Dina Byers.
Graduates and friends are encouraged to share their memories on social media using #RacerGraduation.
About Murray State University: Murray State University provides an "Opportunity Afforded" for more than 10,000 students through a high-quality education with experiential learning, academic and personal growth and the ability to secure a lifetime of success. Since 1922, the true value of higher education has been found at Murray State University, where our commitment is to afford endless opportunities for developing leaders in the community, the country and the world. The University's main campus is located in Murray, Ky. and includes five regional campuses. For more information on Murray State University, please visit murraystate.edu.