More than 800 MTSU graduates walked across the stage in Murphy Center Saturday morning to receive their diplomas during the University’s 101st Summer Commencement ceremony.
MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee welcomed guests and congratulated the graduates on reaching this milestone in their career. He asked the family members and friends of the graduates to stand and be recognized.
“We are approaching 100 years of service to the students in this state, nation and beyond,” McPhee stated. “There are three themes that we live by here at MTSU—pride, tradition and excellence. Today we reflect on pride. We are proud of our faculty, students and alumni. We are a family.”
The president told the audience that MTSU is the second largest producer of graduates to the state’s work force and the No. 1 contributor to the work force in middle Tennessee. Seventy percent of MTSU graduates stay, live and work in the midstate, he said.
Dr. Warner Cribb, professor of geosciences and the 2010-2011 Faculty Senate president, presented the commencement address.
“My graduation gift to you is that my speech will be brief,” Cribb began. He kept his promise.
One of Cribb’s students advised him that his speech should revolve around what has changed the most over the professor’s past eighteen years at MTSU. Cribb took the advice.
“Expectations,” he told the graduates regarding what he believes has changed the most about MTSU since his arrival in 1993. “The most important change at MTSU is not new buildings, the growth in enrollment or new programs or success of our athletic teams. I think the most important change that has occurred on this campus over the past 18 years is that today, everyone on this campus—the faculty, administration, staff, coaches and the students— all have the expectation that MTSU is as good as any university in this country.
“Eighteen years ago, our kids were graduating from a well-respected regional university,” Cribb continued. “Today, you are graduating from a well-respected national university. That is a huge difference. That means wherever you go in this country from this day forward, the expectation is that your degree will be respected at the very highest levels. And you will find that respect extended to you as an MTSU alumnus.
“When you walk across the stage and you shake Dr. McPhee’s hand and you shake your dean’s hand, those are not just handshakes of congratulations,” Cribb said. “Those are reminders that our expectations for you will not change just because you are leaving campus. Our expectation is that you, our alumni, will successfully represent this University across this nation throughout your entire lifetime. That is the privilege that comes with graduating from MTSU in the year 2011.
“I’m done,” Cribb simply said, as he congratulated the graduates and wished them well.
Prior to handing out the diplomas, Dr. McPhee recognized various student groups and, in particular, those associated with the new Senior Class MTSU Gift Challenge.
“These students have made a personal financial gift to the University,” McPhee said. “Funds donated by this class will provide financial assistance to a graduate student next year. Please join me in thanking these students for this important investment in MTSU.”