Spring Commencement under Cloudy Skies but Sunny Forecast

Dr. Conner Sandefur (center) and some of his undergraduate mentees
Dr. Conner Sandefur (center) and some of his undergraduate mentees

Hundreds of families and friends gathered on the quad on Saturday to witness a long anticipated celebration.  Undergraduate commencement exercises were celebrated under warm, muggy conditions and overcast skies, but the mood was upbeat.  Flutist Jonathan Ward and the colorful Lumbee Ambassadors led the platform party to the commencement stage, where Chancellor Robin Cummings presided over the ceremony.

After the usual greetings and welcoming remarks, the Biology Department’s Dr. Conner Sandefur (and member of the Chickasaw Nation) introduced the commencement speaker, Jefferson Keel, President of the National Congress of American Indians. Keel, who is also the Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma, has served on numerous national committees and boards for American Indians.  During his address, he related stories about his journey to higher education, which began with overseas service in the U.S. Army, and he concluded his address with pearls of wisdom delivered as a series of ‘three things’ to remember.   

More than 700 graduate and undergraduate degrees (including ~ 80 degrees in Biology) were conferred during commencement exercises split between Friday evening and Saturday morning (May 3-4).  Several Biology students in the RISE and COMPASS programs and in the Honors College were among the graduates.  Biology Chair, Dr. Velinda Woriax, and several members of the Biology faculty turned out for the occasion and to congratulate the new graduates.

The Department of Biology congratulates the Class of '19 and wishes them the very best in all their future endeavors!