The threat of inclement weather on Friday and Saturday did nothing but move the venue for the University's 125th Commencement. The smiles, the hugs, the shared emotion of a hard-earned moment for more than 2,400 graduates who received their diplomas inside the dry confines of Lawlor Events Center remained firmly intact.
Based on weather that included rain showers on Friday afternoon and unsettled weather on Saturday, the University announced that all three Commencement ceremonies spread over the two days would be moved inside from the University Quadrangle.
The new venue didn't dampen the enthusiasm, the message, nor the fact that a record 2,454 degrees were awarded.
"Four years ago," President Marc Johnson told those assembled, "you came to our campus seeking a quality education. You leave today with a quality education completed, a degree in hand and the knowledge that you can make a difference in your career.
"Our faculty has worked side-by-side with you. They've generated experiential learning opportunities where you have gained confidence, skill and knowledge. You've learned lots from our textbooks; I'd bet, though, you've learned 100 times more from our people.
"The confidence, skill and knowledge that you have acquired will come in handy. Although we live in a time of major challenges, there is no better time to be a college graduate than right now."
Johnson stressed that the graduates' education would make a substantial difference in their lives, and in the lives of others.
"You've been given an opportunity, by virtue of your education here, to begin in earnest the lifelong process of finding the best ways of bringing people and ideas together, to better your community ... and to better our world.
"We can solve the important issues of our time only if we combine the vast amount of knowledge at your disposal with our own inherent humanity. As you move forward today, remember the knowledge you've gained is always tightly interwoven with your own sense of purpose."
Also during the weekend, University featured three guest speakers, one speaking at each Commencement ceremony: Annette Bidart, a 1985 graduate of the University and co-founder of the investment and financial services firm, Bidart & Ross; Sara Lafrance, a 1973 graduate of the University and president of Educational Pathways International, an education-focused charitable foundation; and U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, a 1959 graduate of the University and a former two-term Nevada Governor.
Major awards presented during the two days included:
The Herz Gold Medal for Outstanding Scholarship was awarded to Steven DelaCruz, a chemical engineering major who will begin his graduate studies at Cal-Berkeley in the fall;
The President's Medal was awarded to Joseph S. Bradley in honor of the Reno attorney's more than 30 years of substantial generosity, service and connection to the University;
An Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters was awarded to Jennifer and Phil Satre, who, as a Nevada educator/University alumna and nationally admired business leader, respectively, have made significant and longtime contributions to the University;
Distinguished Nevadan awards were presented to University alumnus and prominent Nevada attorney Paul A. Bible and civil rights leader Eddie Scott.