#Beavergrad, says Reser Stadium’s commencement banner

Decorated undergraduate caps at the 155th Commencement ceremony on Jun 15, 2024 in Corvallis, Oregon.
Decorated undergraduate caps at the 155th Commencement ceremony on Jun 15, 2024 in Corvallis, Oregon.
Taya Etzell

At 10:37 a.m., the procession leaders entered the stadium. What followed was a number of graduates never seen before at commencement.

On Saturday, Oregon State University’s commencement ceremony, held at Reser Stadium celebrated over 7,600 graduates, according to the University newsletter.

The OSU commencement website explains that seniors graduating any time from summer 2023 to summer 2024 were invited to join the commencement celebration, provided they have 135 completed credits by winter 2024.

Brian Hendren, a resident of Portland, Ore. has a son who walked at commencement but will get his economics diploma after this summer. He was still able to walk with his classmates in the ceremony.

“There’s a lot of things about OSU he enjoyed,” Hendren said.

One of those things was the college-town atmosphere of Corvallis, according to Hendren, but there were also things that got in the way.

“It was hard because his class had to go through COVID,” Hendren said.

Hendren’s son is the first of four to graduate college.

“It’s my first time coming to a graduation that isn’t my own, and it’s exciting,” Hendren said. “The stadium’s awesome.”

The field at that point was almost empty of people except for the stands and entertained by the trills of the OSU Wind Ensemble, directed by Eric Leung.

Families and friends gather to cheer on their loved ones graduating from Oregon State University at Reser Stadium, in Corvallis OR, on June 15, 2024, at OSU’s 155th Commencement ceremony. (Carter Pardue)

Black seats covered the turf, divided into sections for the different colleges, such as the College of Engineering, the largest group with almost 2000 graduates, the College of Liberal Arts, the second largest, with over a thousand graduates (and who were the only group with different, brown chairs), the third, the College of Business, with almost a thousand, and others.

On the jumbo screen, the procession leader marched at a languid pace through the lengthy line of waiting graduates, starting around the Student Experience Center, and directly followed by bagpipe players, drummers and flagbearers.

OSU’s mascot, Benny the Beaver, joined at the front of the march.

An undergraduate high-fives Benny the Beaver in Reser Stadium at the 155th Commencement ceremony on Jun 15, 2024 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Taya Etzell)

During the ceremony, an electronic banner encouraged attendees to use #beavergrad to tag photos, which has now been used in more than 1000 posts on Instagram in the years since its creation.

The first to fill the stadium in three columns were the doctoral and master’s degree candidates, this was followed by the sounds of the national anthem.

Speakers included President Jayathi Murthy, Board of Trustees Chair Kirk Schueler, Provost and Executive Vice President Edward Feser, OSU graduate of 2020 and former NFL running back Steven Jackson and Associated Students of Oregon State University President Carissa O’Donnell.

President Jayathi Murthy, gives opening remarks at the 155th Commencement ceremony on Jun 15, 2024 in Corvallis, Oregon.
(Taya Etzell)

Michael Waterman, a mathematician and notable contributor to an algorithm important to bioinformatics, molecular biology and genetics, was given an honorary doctorate in mathematics toward the beginning of the ceremony.

After the ceremony, Saqib Muhammad, a graduating civil engineering student, said, “I have two plans, either go from a job with the city of Eugene or do a master’s.”

Muhammad said this gave him mixed feelings about graduation, although he enjoyed the marching band and the procession into the stadium.

He said that Eugene offered him a paid internship, but with no guarantee of employment after that.

Muhammad was accepted into a master’s program at the University of Kansas, which he said he plans to enroll in if he has no luck.

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