Middle Tennessee State University's summer graduation saw an almost capacity turnout Saturday morning (8/11/2012) in Murphy Center.
Faculty, staff, family and friends of the almost 1,000 newly minted graduates of MTSU undoubtedly agreed with President Sidney A. McPhee's assessment of the university's summer 2012 commencement ceremony.
"This is indeed a day of celebration for all of us," McPhee told the 981 students receiving undergraduate or graduate degrees in today's 10 a.m. event inside Murphy Center. "For more than a century, we have provided our students with … unique opportunities to realize their potential.
"You may feel that this long journey is over. We feel that it is just a comma, not a period, in your story. It is the beginning of even greater things to come."
Of the 981 students receiving degrees today, 725 are undergraduates and 256 are graduate students. The latter number included 238 master’s candidates, six education-specialist recipients and 10 doctoral candidates; two graduate students also received graduate certificates.
Professor Kim Neal Nofsinger, who concluded his 2011-12 term as president of the MTSU Faculty Senate with today's ceremony, was the event's special guest speaker. Citing inspiration from a National Public Radio broadcast about "adventure travel," he encouraged the new graduates to consider themselves "adventure travelers" in taking their next steps.
"Decide what your avocation is," said Nofsinger, the director of dance in MTSU’s Department of Speech and Theatre. "Your compass will, at times, need to be recalibrated … because of information you've learned.
"You aren't graduating at a high point of economic prosperity … and there's not an 'easy button' to guarantee your success. You may have to rely more on the skills you've gained in your liberal-arts education than you expected."
Referring to his own changes in life direction -- from his childhood on a dairy farm to a college scholarship with plans to become a speech teacher, from working in hotel/restaurant management to his discovery of his ultimate career in dance and education -- Nofsinger said that willingness to accept and grow with change is critical.
"It was off the map of my life plan," the professor said, "but I allowed dance and my passion for it to lead me, and it took my life in directions I never would have imagined."
MTSU's 2012-13 academic year begins Saturday, Aug. 25, with the first official day of fall 2012 semester classes. University Convocation, a public ceremony welcoming new freshmen into the MTSU family, is set for Sunday, Aug. 26, at 2 p.m. in Murphy Center.
The largest undergrad university in Tennessee continues to experience growth. This coming Monday morning (8/13/2012), another special agreement between MTSU and the federal government will be announced. Some expect it to top an earlier partnership dealing with drone aircraft used for military and surveillance purposes.