MURRAY — Murray State University celebrated December 2018 Commencement Saturday in the CFSB Center, conferring 721 degrees during a combined undergraduate and graduate ceremony.

Murray State Interim President Robert L. Jackson presided over the ceremony administering, along with Provost Mark Arant, the conferring of degrees. Students receiving degrees represented 19 states and 15 countries, the university said.

The formal Presentation of Colors was led by the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) Color Guard from Paducah Tilghman High School. Distinguished Professor Stephen Cobb served as the ceremony’s mace-bearer.

During the commencement service, Emma Cook and George Bittel, the outstanding seniors for fall 2018, delivered valedictions addressing their fellow graduates. Cook, of Marble Hill, Missouri, graduated with a degree in human resource management, while Bittel, of Owensboro, graduated with a degree in agricultural business. 

Dr. Kenneth Winters also received an honorary doctorate from the University during the ceremony. Winters received his bachelor’s degree in education from Murray State in 1957 and served as dean for the University’s College of Industry and Technology from 1977 to 1988. Additionally, during his career, Winters served as the ninth president of Campbellsville University and was elected to the Kentucky State Senate. Winters thanked the University for “nurturing me through my years as a student and as part of the faculty, staff and administrative team.”

Faculty in attendance for the ceremony were led into the CFSB Center by the recipients of the Regents Teaching Award for Excellence, including Frances Smith, Brian Bourke, Deborah Bell, Yoko Hatakeyama, Rebecca Williams, Elizabeth Donovan, Sterling Wright and Shea Porr. They were joined by the Max Carman Teaching Excellence Recipient Amelia Dodd, Presidential Research Fellow Juyoung Song, University Distinguished Mentor Yoko Hatakeyama, Distinguished Researcher Randall Black, Faculty Advisor of the Year Bassam Atieh and University Emerging Scholars Urmi Willoughby and Gary Zeruth.

Faculty marshals assisting with the ceremony included Susana Bloomdahl, Heath Keller, Michael Kemp, Robert Lyons, Melony Shemberger, Matthew Shultz and F. Gilland Welsch.

Jackson’s remarks included words of Murray State’s first president, John Wesley Carr, who envisioned the University as a special place with its best days ahead, and an institution with inspiring faculty and staff that produces leaders who make a difference in and beyond the Commonwealth.

“You have benefited from this special place; we have benefited from this special place, and our best days are still in front of us,” Jackson said.  “You now have a responsibility as a new alumnus to lead, to make a difference, to give back, to assist your alma mater as an active graduate, to help us continue this work for the next 100 years.”   

Graduates, family and friends are encouraged to continue sharing memories of the day’s events on social media using #RacerGraduation, a news release from Murray State said. The ceremony was streamed live on the Murray State Live YouTube page, and it is currently available for viewing in its entirety. 

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