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May 19, 2011
By John Trent
The University of Nevada, Reno marked a historic Commencement weekend, with more than 2,000 degrees and certificates - a record for the 137-year-old institution - awarded on May 13-14, 2011.
University President Marc Johnson, in his commencement address welcoming graduates, noted that the record graduation of 2,012 was just the tip of what had been a year of historic achievement for the University.
Johnson said that in addition to record graduation, the University had reached milestones in most students enrolled at 17,679, highest freshman retention rate (80 percent) and most National Merit Scholars enrolled (38).
"These are milestones that have been reached while our campus has absorbed record budget reductions," Johnson said. "It is truly an amazing story, and illustrates so well the resilience and spirit of our faculty, staff and students ... we are a University for all Nevada."
Johnson encouraged the weekend's graduates to follow their passion, quoting Thoreau that it is best to, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."
Both the advanced degree ceremony, held on Friday evening on the Quad, and the undergraduate degree ceremony, held on Saturday morning, featured tributes to late University President Milt Glick, who passed away on April 16 at age 73.
Said Johnson: "(Glick) was never jaundiced or cynical. He was an optimist. And if the world got a little wobbly from time to time, he always gave the answer to the problem. The answer to all our problems is in education."
The graduates who attended the ceremony seemed jubilant to have what Johnson called "the last line written" for their college careers - though they were also expectant and excited for the future.
"It took a long time, and I'm pretty glad to be here right now," Paul Kanow, a biology graduate, told the Reno Gazette-Journal. "It definitely was pretty difficult at some times, but it was well worth it now."
The University's senior with the highest grade point average was also honored with the Herz Medal. Lauren Vancitters, a Galena High School graduate, was admitted to the University of Nevada, Reno in the fall of 2007 and graduated with a degree in biology from the College of Science. Vancitters graduated with a 4.0 GPA and plans to attend UC San Francisco in the fall to pursue a doctorate in Physical Therapy.
Glick, and Federal Judge Edward Reed were honored with Distinguished Nevadan awards. Regent Dorothy Gallagher and Nevada State Sen. William Raggio were presented with honorary degrees.