Contact: Sammy McDavid
As is his style, Gov. Kirk Fordice combined a positive view of the future with a preacher-like emphasis on basic values in his Friday commencement address to Mississippi State University graduates.
"Class of 1996, let us navigate the seas of life with integrity as our guiding star," Fordice told the Humphrey Coliseum audience of more than 9,500. He also cited the virtues of achieving personal excellence, courage and tenacity in his nearly 20 minute-long address.
Some 1,600 students received degrees at the conclusion of the spring semester. The Humphrey Coliseum ceremony also included nearly 900 fall semester graduates.
"We live in the greatest country ever to grace God's earth, but we often forget that America is an experiment, perhaps the greatest experiment mankind has ever undertaken, but an experiment nevertheless," he said. "This experiment is about to be entrusted to each one of you as you become full contributors to the fabric of American society.
"The jury is still out on the future of America. Your contributions and your commitment to personal and professional excellence, courage and integrity will affect more lives in the future of this nation more than you can ever imagine," he said.
"This graduating class and the next four to follow have a unique opportunity to embark on their professional lives in the dawn of a new decade, a new century and a new millennium," Fordice said. "You have the opportunity to make your mark in a pristine era of history."
In keeping with university tradition, the campus chapter of Phi Kappa Phi honor society presented medals to seniors leaving with perfect 4.0 grade-point averages. Nine, including two from the fall semester, were recognized.
They included Ana E. Boswell of Jackson, Paul W. Boykin and Tamara M. Hudspeth of Starkville, Nathan S. Clements of Little Rock, Ark., Monika E. Dunlap of Louisville, Rachael D. Jacob of Clarksdale, Cindy C. Morris of Forest, Brent C. Ross of Bartlett, Tenn., and Stephanie M. Whitson of Birmingham, Ala.
Another permanent part of graduation was begun Friday with the inclusion of a special alumni group in the ceremony. Representatives of the 50-year anniversary graduating class will now be among those on hand to welcome the new alumni.
Dressed in gold caps and gowns, a dozen members of the Class of 1946 took part. Of 119 graduates that year, Mississippi State invited the 66 for whom it had current mailing addresses.