ECU graduates 2,500
(May 8, 2004)
East Carolina University awarded 2,568 candidates with degrees Saturday at the institution's 95th spring commencement. Degrees were conferred in two separate ceremonies in Minges Coliseum.
Chancellor Bill Shelton encouraged the graduates as they go forward through life to have an open mind that fosters creativity, independence, responsibility and a broad perspective.
"The idea of a higher education is not to take an empty mind and fill it, but to take a closed mind and open it," Shelton said. Rick Niswander, chair of the faculty, said he and his colleagues were proud of the graduates and urged them to succeed and to stay in touch.
"As you leave you'll take a part of us with you and you will leave a part of you with us," he said. "We've been through a lot. Your experience shows you can meet a challenge and succeed. And when you go through life, don't set limits - set goals. Believe that you can. Because we do."
The morning program honored both undergraduate and graduate degree candidates in the Brody School of Medicine, the College of Education, the College of Human Ecology, the College of Health and Human Performance, the College of Technology and Computer Science, the School of Allied Health Sciences and the School of Nursing. The afternoon ceremony recognized candidates from the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Fine Arts and Communication.
Irene Smith Howell, founder of the Howell Centers and longtime supporter of ECU, was awarded an honorary doctor of letters at the morning ceremony. Five graduates were also honored at the afternoon ceremony with the Robert H. Wright Alumni Leadership Award. The recipients are: Drew Edward Davis of Weddington, Gail T. Kennedy of Wilson's Mills, Daphne Melvina Harrington of Greenville, Kevin Michael Lamm of Wilson and Leanne Elizabeth Smith of Greenville. James LeRoy Smith, vice chancellor for academic affairs, spoke to students in the afternoon ceremony and advised them that their final exam is to seek knowledge beyond facts and figures. Truth, commitment and autonomy, he said, contribute to the success of the whole self and give rise to true leadership.
"How you carry yourself with regard to truthfulness, the kinds of commitments you make, and the ultimate autonomy of how you carry yourself, personally and professionally, will be part of that final exam," he said.