Graduates, families celebrate at ECU's 100th fall commencement
Leslie Harris kisses her husband, James, after the graduation ceremony. Rachel Jarrett, graduate of the College of Nursing, decorated her cap. Beside her is Matt Hiatt. Photos by Cliff Hollis.
(Dec. 13, 2008)
Excited, soon-to-be graduates of East Carolina University paraded into the Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum Dec. 13 to loud applause from family and friends.
“Thank you for such a great turnout for a great day in the life of this university. It’s another great day to be a Pirate,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard, as cheers filled the arena. “We are very proud and honored to have you here with us today at this 100th fall commencement.”
About 600 graduates participated in the ceremony. More than 3,000 students were eligible to participate, including 2,218 graduates from the fall semester and 889 graduates from the summer, according to the ECU’s registrar’s office. Of those graduates, 2,108 received bachelor’s degrees; 951 were awarded graduate degrees and 48 earned professional degrees.
Louis Warren, professor of education in ECU’s College of Education, delivered the commencement address.
“From this standpoint, it is a beautiful sight: a sea of purple. We are truly in Pirate territory,” Warren said as he looked out over the crowd.
Warren, a native of North Carolina, joined the ECU faculty in 1994. He received the UNC Board of Governor’s Distinguished Professor for Teaching Award and was the recipient of the Max Ray Joyner Award for faculty service through continuing education at ECU.
Warren congratulated the graduates for their achievements and noted the characteristics that make ECU’s students unique, including perseverance, humility and sense of gratitude to the university.
“My challenge here to you today is to continue to be what you already are: the best,” he said. “And remember that in life, there are some challenging times and there are good times. But no matter what life throws at you, you can handle it, because you are an East Carolina University graduate.”
Other speakers at the fall commencement included Matthew Hojatzadeh, senior class officer; Chair of the Faculty Jan Tovey; and Phillip Dixon of the UNC Board of Governors.
Hojatzadeh encouraged graduates to face life’s challenges with strength, determination and knowledge from lessons learned at ECU. “I challenge you to always strive for greatness, no matter what your occupation may be. Always find happiness in what you do because, if you don’t, you’ll never find true success,” he said.
Tovey said, though it may not be easy for students to say goodbye to friends and faculty members in the Pirate family, graduates should nurture those ECU connections and know they will not be forgotten.
“We wish you well as you leave our world and set up on your own,” she said. “As you take your leave today, remember, no matter where you are, you will always be a Pirate.”
After the graduates from each college stood to be recognized, they launched into a spontaneous cheer of “purple, gold!”
Jokingly, Chancellor Ballard said, “Okay, you can’t start to party until you get your degrees.”
Ballard then conferred the degrees, and Kemal Atkins, vice provost for student life, led the students in the time-honored tradition of turning their tassels as graduates, family and friends cheered.