Spring 2021 Commencement - College of Business and Economic Development
Good evening, and welcome to The University of Southern Mississippi’s Spring 2021 Commencement ceremony for the baccalaureate degrees in the College of Business and Economic Development. I'm Rodney Bennett, President of The University of Southern Mississippi. Please remain standing for the Presentation of our Colors by our Army ROTC Color Guard and the performance of our National Anthem, led by Ms. Katrina Leeann Cox.
Thank you. You may be seated. Commencements at The University of Southern Mississippi are wonderful occasions as we acknowledge the achievements of our students and recognize the contributions that family, friends, and our USM faculty and staff have made to their education. For those of you who were able to join us in person, thank you for being here. And for those of you who are viewing the ceremony online, thank you for being a part of this very special occasion for our graduates. I would like to extend special thanks to each individual who has supported our graduates, for entrusting the education of your loved ones to The University of Southern Mississippi. It has, indeed, been our privilege to have assisted them in getting to this very important day.
Students, please join me in thanking your family and loved ones for their support, with a round of applause. This past year has certainly changed so many things about our world, but it has also helped remind us of the important moments, like this one- moments where we can celebrate a milestone and create a memory to cherish for years to come. I'd like to extend a special welcome and acknowledgement to each graduate from our Spring 2020, Summer 2020, or Fall 2020 Class who is participating this evening.
Although we were unable to host Commencement ceremonies last year, I am so pleased that you were able to return to what is now your alma mater to commemorate this special milestone. If you completed your degree in the year 2020, please stand if you are able to do so. Thank you, all. You may be seated. I would also like to welcome each of our Spring 2021 degree candidates, as you conclude your course of study here at The University of Southern Mississippi and prepare to go out into the world. I am so pleased that you have chosen to participate in our in-person ceremony this year. Graduate education is a critical part of our institutional mission. As such, I would like to take just a moment to acknowledge the University’s newest graduate degree holders.
In the past year, more than 220 doctoral students and more than 950 specialist and master’s students completed advanced degrees from our institution. These degrees were conferred yesterday. It is my hope that many of you will one day join their ranks by pursuing advanced study here at The University of Southern Mississippi. For those of you who are already enrolled in our graduate programs, I look forward to seeing you walk across this very stage for a second time for your master's or specialist, and perhaps a third time, for your PhD, as you grow into your very promising career.
Just planting a little seed there to keep learning, keep getting education. I'd also like to take a moment to thank our faculty and staff for their hard work to continue educating our students in a year like no other. I know that many of them are watching the ceremony this evening online in support of our graduates. And so, students, I'd like to ask you with a round of applause to acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our University faculty and staff, please. Military service to our country is among the highest forms of patriotism and selflessness. I'd like to invite all graduating students and members of the audience who are veterans, active military or reservists, or newly commissioned officers, to please stand if you are able to do so.
Please stand. As President of The University of Southern Mississippi, and on behalf of this institution, we thank you for your service – past, present, and future. I would now like to introduce members of the Platform Party who will not be presented later in the ceremony. I would ask that each person stand and remain standing, and if the audience would please hold your applause until each individual has been recognized.
I'll begin here to my immediate right- providing sign interpretation for our ceremony this evening, is Ms. Margo Buisson; Dr. Emily Bullock Yowell, Commencement Grand Marshal; Mr. Lucas Williams, President of the Student Government Association; Mr. Gavin Rustin, representing Graduate Student Council;
and our ceremonial readers to my far left, Dr. Kathryn Anthony and Dr. Colin McKenzie. Please help me welcome each of these individuals to the ceremony this evening. It is indeed a great privilege and honor for me to invite to the podium the Executive Director of the Southern Miss Alumni Association, Mr. Jerry DeFatta. Good evening, and congratulations to each of you.
On behalf of the Southern Miss Alumni Association, welcome to the club. You are all now part of an ever-growing group of more than 130,000 proud Southern Miss alumni scattered throughout the world. As graduates of The University of Southern Mississippi, I want to encourage you to join our Alumni Association. And I don’t mean just to join. We need you to be active. We need you to help us to recruit the next generation of Southern Miss students.
Get connected with your local alumni group and serve your community on behalf of our University. Let us know about the important things taking place in your life, and we'll keep you informed about what's going on here at your University. The Southern Miss community is your family, and each of you can make a difference in the future of our University.
I would also like to take a moment to recognize our legacy families, which include graduating students with at least one parent who is a Southern Miss graduate. If our alumni parents and their graduating students will, please stand so that you may be recognized. We are delighted to see so many alumni parents in the crowd, and we are even more grateful that your student chose to continue the Southern Miss legacy. Again, congratulations to all of you as graduates of The University of Southern Mississippi. And as we say, Southern Miss – To The Top! Thank you.
Thank you, Jerry. Before we begin the conferral of degrees this evening, I'd like to acknowledge that The University of Southern Mississippi will soon honor Mr. Lawrence W. Warren, President and Chief Executive Officer of Warren Paving, Incorporated, with a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. I encourage each of you to refer to page 115 in your Commencement program to learn more about Mr. Warren and his exceptional contributions to the Greater Pine Belt community and to The University of Southern Mississippi. For our graduates, who in just about a minute will begin to start walking across the stage, let me give you a little bit of instruction of what I hope we can do this evening.
I'd like to encourage you to use the hand sanitizer that we provided at your seat before and after you come across the stage. I'd ask you to govern yourself accordingly with appropriate spacing as you line up, with the person in front of you. And I'd like to ask you to continue to wear your face covering while you you are in line and as you hand your name card to our ceremonial readers at the top of the ramp. Once you get to the top of the ramp, you may remove your face covering if you choose to do so, obviously because there will be several pictures taken as you come back and forth across the stage. I will not be wearing my face covering during this process, but I want assure you that I have received all the necessary vaccinations, and I don't intend to spread any disease to anybody tonight. So you'll be good when you get to this side of the stage. I'm not going to be shaking your hand. But in lieu of shaking your hand,
I'm excited to share that I will be presenting each of you with a special keepsake gift. The gift is a commemorative letter opener that you can now see on the screen, with The University of Southern Mississippi embossed on the handle. It is my hope that each of you will keep this as a memento of all the possibilities that are now open to you as graduates of The University of Southern Mississippi.
So now for the main event. At this time, I will ask our Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Steven R. Moser, to come forward for the conferral of degrees. Good evening. I will now ask the deans to present their graduates and candidates for the baccalaureate degree. Dr. Ellen Weinauer, Dean of the Honors College
Would all students who previously graduated, or are graduating this evening from the Honors College please stand? Provost Moser, as signified by the medallions they are wearing, these students are graduating with Latin honors. Each one of them has completed a rigorous program of study that includes unique Honors coursework, a comprehensive examination in their major, and an Honors research thesis. Students individual Latin designations are indicated in the Commencement program and are reflective of each student's cumulative GPA. While their degrees are awarded by the College of their major, I'm proud to present them to you, and I ask the audience to please recognize them for their achievements with your applause. Students, you may be seated. I'd now like to ask Ethan Bryce Surrett to stand and remain standing.
Ethan has the distinction of carrying the Presidential banner today because he has earned the highest GPA on the most USM hours of any Honors College student in this ceremony. Ethan, a management major from Collinsville, Mississippi, represents the highest standards of both the Honors College and The University of Southern Mississippi. Please recognize him and the excellence he represents with your applause. Congratulations, Ethan. You may be seated. Dr. Bret Becton, Dean of the College of Business and Economic Development
Will the graduates who completed the baccalaureate degree in the Spring of 2020 please rise and remain standing? Provost Moser, these graduates were previously approved for graduation by the faculty in the College of Business and Economic Development, and their degrees would have been conferred in May of 2020. Graduates, you may be seated. Now, will the graduates who completed the baccalaureate degree in the Summer or Fall of 2020 please rise and remain standing? Provost Moser, these graduates were previously approved for graduation by the faculty in the College of Business and Economic Development, and their degrees would have been conferred in December of 2020. Graduates, you may be seated. Now, will the candidates for the baccalaureate degree for the Spring 2021 semester please rise and remain standing? Provost Moser, these candidates have been approved for graduation by the faculty in the College of Business and Economic Development. They are ready to have their degrees conferred, pending completion of all degree requirements.
Candidates, you may be seated. Will all graduates and candidates for the baccalaureate degree please stand? President Bennett, these graduates and candidates have been approved for graduation by their dean and faculty, and I recommend that you confer their degrees. Provost Moser, on your recommendation, with the approval of the faculty and by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of The University of Southern Mississippi, and pending completion of any remaining degree requirements, I confer upon these graduates and candidates their respective baccalaureate degree, with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining.
Congratulations, graduates. Will the graduates and candidates for the baccalaureate degree please come forward and receive your diploma? Graduates, you have made it. Isn't that awesome? You have arrived at this long-awaited milestone, and the world will now expect great things of you now that you are a graduate of The University of Southern Mississippi. You are part of a group of individuals who will find their way all around the world and carry with them more than 111 years of University history and tradition. Tradition requires that before graduation, the tassel of an undergraduate candidate be worn on the right-hand side of the mortarboard. After graduation, as a symbol of your new status as degree holders, the tassel is worn on the left.
So now, would you please move your tassel from the right to the left, signifying your status as baccalaureate degree holders from The University of Southern Mississippi. Congratulations to each of you, and we wish you all the best. Now, I'm sure that you noticed a student who came across the stage with exceptionally large gold feet.
Had to be pretty hard to miss. And I'd like for that student to stand, if he might, so that I might offer some level of explanation about the matter related to his feet and hands. The University allows students who have served as Seymour, our athletic mascot, to wear their feet or hands if they choose to do so as part of their Commencement. During their service as Seymour, their identities are anonymous. And so, this is our way of announcing to the University community who the Seymours have been over the years. I would like to thank you, Seymour, for all that you have done to move The University of Southern Mississippi forward.
Thank you, and congratulations. Before we close, I would again like to thank members of our faculty and staff for their dedication and service to this awesome University, The University of Southern Mississippi. I would also like to extend a special thank you to each of our volunteers, who worked countless hours to organize an entire week of Commencement ceremonies, all to make this a very special occasion for our graduates and for their families. To ensure that we are able to maintain appropriate distancing following the recessional, I would ask that everybody meet outside and take the necessary pictures and plan where we're going to eat for supper, and so on and so forth. At this time, I will ask each of you to stand if you are able to do so for the performance of our Alma Mater, again being performed by Ms. Katrina Leeann Cox. Following her performance, please remain standing for the platform party’s recessional.
Again, thank you for joining us this evening for this important celebration, and thank each of you for being a part of The University of Southern Mississippi. Ms. Cox - We sing to thee our alma mater, USM thy praises be: Southern mem’ries we shall cherish, Loyalty we pledge to thee. Spacious skies and land of sunshine, Verdant trees and shelt’ring walls, Now our hearts lift ever to thee, As we praise thy hallowed halls.