‘An amazing accomplishment:’ thousands gather in rain for Oregon State’s 153rd Commencement

The+2022+Oregon+State+University+Commencement+on+Saturday%2C+June+11%2C+2022+at+Reser+Stadium.

Jason May, OMN Photographer

The 2022 Oregon State University Commencement on Saturday, June 11, 2022 at Reser Stadium.

Zeva Rosenbaum, News Contributor

7,574 degrees were awarded during Oregon State University’s 2022 Commencement ceremony on June 11 at Reser Stadium, with over 4,000 students attending the rain-soaked event in person.

This was the first in-person Commencement ceremony held since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Graduates flooded into Reser Stadium just before 11 a.m. led by a group of bagpipe players and ROTC members carrying the flags. 

OSU Interim President Becky Johnson saidit was special for her since it’s the last commencement she will be overseeing now that Dr. Jayathi Murthy, dean of University of California, Los Angeles’ Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been elected as OSU’s new president. 

“Congratulations to all of [the graduates],” Johnson said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment, I’m glad they got to enjoy it, and I’m sorry it was raining!”

Johnson opened the ceremony with a speech, making sure to acknowledge the Kalapuya and Siletz tribes before beginning the faculty introductions, and President Emeritus Edward Ray was given an honorary Doctorate of Education.

The Commencement speaker, pro basketball player and sports analyst Lamar Hurd spoke about his post-grad experience coaching children and the way it unexpectedly impacted his career and life. 

“When this young group of kids walked into the gym for their first practice, a new feeling came upon me,” Hurd said. “I felt like my direction in life had instantly changed. I wanted to be for them what my childhood coach had been for me.”

Hurd said he retired from playing basketball ‘on the spot’ and switched to coaching despite skepticism from friends and family. He said this ultimately led to his success in his career after getting the opportunity to work as a college basketball sports analyst. 

“That would not have happened, had I not followed my heart the year prior and stayed in town to coach kids and therefore be readily available when that opportunity arose,” Hurd said.

Hurd now works for the Portland Trail Blazers and has been involved with major sports broadcasters like ESPN.

“I encourage you: identify who you are and who you want to be before you target what you are and what you need to be,” Hurd advised the graduates. “The ‘who’ will make your ‘what’ easier to find, and the ‘who’ will help you thrive in your ‘what’ once you find it. There is an inner peace, purpose and alignment that revolves around identifying and nourishing who you are.”

Hurd also suggested that graduates follow their own intuition and not always the advice of others, to be mindful of how they present themselves, and to “do what’s right.” 

Associate Students of OSU President Dhru Patel spoke next, calling for the graduates to cheer for those who supported them during their college journeys and thanking his own parents, mentors and friends. 

“I’m so proud to be standing here with all of you and I think we can all agree that our time at OSU has been nothing but eventful,” Patel said. “We succeeded and failed, we laughed and cried, we expanded our horizons and pushed the limits of our competencies.”

Patel spoke about the challenges of dealing with school during the COVID-19 pandemic and said it proves the “resilience” of the graduates, and joked about never having to use Canvas or DUO again. 

“The world is calling for leaders in a capacity it has never done before,” Patel said. “…we need to be the ones who answer that call.”

After a rendition of the alma mater by the OSU Quartet and the OSU Wind Ensemble, OSU Alumni Association Board of Directors chair Lori Rush welcomed the class of 2022 as alumni and encouraged them to use the alumni association as a “lifelong resource.”

“Graduates, the OSU faculty is honored to have been your teachers and is proud of your growth and accomplishments,” OSU Faculty Senate President Katherine A. MacTavish said. “As you move into the next phase of your lives, we know that you will contribute solutions to the challenges, large and small…and that you will make this world a better place.”

Deans of each of OSU’s individual colleges presented the undergraduate candidates for each of their colleges and, after all 7,574 candidates had been presented and the degrees conferred, the audience applauded, stomped their feet and cheered a roar of support. PhD graduates walked to the stage to accept their diplomas while master’s and bachelor’s degree students dispersed to their colleges’ assigned tents on the field of Reser Stadium. 

324 doctor of philosophy and doctor of education degrees were awarded to PhD candidates and 1,184 master’s degrees were awarded to master’s candidates by Philip Mote, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, and Honors College Dean Toni Doolan presented 224 honors college graduates. 

As for bachelor’s degree candidates: the College of Education presented 62 candidates; the College of Agriculture presented 426 candidates; the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences presented 193 candidates; the College of Forestry presented 198 candidates; the College of Public Health and Human Sciences presented 564 candidates; the College of Science presented 658 candidates;  the College of Business presented 959 candidates, The College of Liberal Arts presented 1,029 candidates, and the College of Engineering presented 1,806 candidates. 

As Board of Trustees chair Kirk E. Schueler said, “you’ll take different paths during your life, and you may take a wrong turn or two. Know that it’s okay to get lost occasionally; none of us have all of the answers. Ultimately, what will guide you to your destination is a strong sense of purpose, joy and passion.”