More than 3,200 friends, family and wellwishers packed the Main Gym of the Jones Athletic Complex on Saturday, May 11 for Spring Commencement 2002 at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
As Chancellor Allen C. Meadors noted to a full house, the growing ranks of UNCP graduates caused the university to hold two graduation ceremonies a year and move to ever-larger venues. Three hundred and thirty-four students received diplomas, 32 with graduate degrees.
Graduates were urged by keynote speaker Charlie Rose to develop a deep sense of spirituality early in life that will carry them peacefully and confidently to the end of their lives. Mr. Rose, 62, retired in 1997 after 12 terms as U.S. Representative for District 7.
The retired congressman was bestowed an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. He was also honored later in the day at a ceremony to open the Charlie Rose Archival Collection in the Sampson-Livermore Library. He has donated memorabilia and papers to the library.
"It's a big world out there with lots of toys to entertain you," Mr. Rose said. "If you persist in playing with your toys, you may miss your ride home and a whole lot more."
"Life is more spirit than substance," he said. "I encourage you to quickly develop a set of spiritual goals for yourself. This cannot be bestowed on you; you must find it for yourself."
The Fayetteville native was a very popular politician, especially among farmers and Lumbee Indians. Dr. Robert Schneider, who introduced Mr. Rose and is chair of the Political Science Department, said his walk to the library after Commencement was a lesson in hero worship.
"Literally dozens of people stopped us to ask for autographs and to say hello to the congressman," Dr. Schneider said. "It was remarkable."
Mr. Rose told the graduates that a spiritual life may a lonely one with many pitfalls along the way.
"Your ego will tell you that money, sex and power is all you need to see you through," he said. "Being spiritual today means going it alone to take an inward spiritual journey."
"It's tough and requires discipline, work, prayer and dedication. However, martyrdom is not necessary," he said. "Strive to be a spiritual person with a good car."
"When your ride comes to pick you up at the end, not only will you have a ride home, but you will have organized all your playmates to go with you," Rose concluded.
In his remarks to the graduates, Chancellor Meadors left them with "a simple thought."
"It all starts with attitude," he said. "I believe that attitude is 90 percent of success. People with a positive outlook on life can accomplish just about anything."
At the afternoon dedication, Mr. Rose said, "my career started in Robeson County and ended in this county.
"There was no question in my mind that my meager collection should be in this place," he said. "I really appreciate this day - to speak to this great class and to see how this campus and the town have grown."
Chancellor Meadors praised the Rose collection as a valuable addition to the Sampson-Livermore Library.
"With the Charlie Rose papers and documents we have a place alongside other important libraries that we have not had before," Chancellor Meadors said.
The collection is in Room 226.
Offering greetings to the graduating class were: Barbara S. Perry, a member of the UNC Board of Governors; Robert Nelson, UNC associate vice chancellor for finance; Dr. Cheryl Locklear, chair of the UNCP Board of Trustees; Dr. Patrick Cabe, chair of the UNCP Faculty Senate; Dane Onorio, outgoing president of the UNCP Student Government Association and Dr. Dwight Pearson, president of the UNCP Alumni Association.
Music for Commencement was provided by the University Concert Band and the Pembroke Singers under the director of Gary Wright.