Graduates of Utah State University were urged to "savor, anticipate and contemplate the excitement of pending tomorrows" by Mark E. Austad, former U.S. ambassador to Finland and Norway, at the school's 95th commencement ceremony Saturday.
The future looks bright at the moment, said the Cache Valley native, with new hope for world peace coming out of the Reagan-Gorbachev summit that concluded earlier in the week."I can think of no better commencement gift to you and every other graduating class throughout the civilized world," said Austad. "I strongly feel that since World War II, there has not been a more optimistic atmosphere for graduates to face a more peaceful world."
Austad, who enjoyed a long career in broadcasting before being named ambassador to Finland in 1975, addressed the largest graduating class in the history of USU. A total of 2,357 degrees were awarded, including 682 graduate degrees.
The diplomat told the graduates that "from this moment on, most of you will be graded without the use of the alphabet. Your grades in those tomorrows, I hope, will be good salaries and, even more, abundant satisfaction."
To lead the graduates on the path of success, Austad offered several suggestions from his own experience, including "never give up, think big, be ready, don't be afraid to take risks, have a purpose, avoid chasing meaningless goals and give some of your time and talent to public service."
Receiving honorary degrees were Austad for his achievements in broadcasting, business and government; Ellis L. Armstrong, noted for his engineering expertise; Robert S. Hoffman, a world authority on the evolution of holarectic manuals; Nicholas C. Leone, a leader in medical research; and manufacturing expert Shigeo Shingo.
Named valedictorians of the respective colleges were: Jan Lee A. Jensen, agriculture; Cheryl C. Nelson, business; Jana K. Huber, education; David L. Pierson, engineering; Tammy Jo Dance, family life; Jon P. Briscoe, humanities, arts and social sciences; Randy L. Roeth, natural resources, and Zoe G. Cardon, science.
The commencement ceremony, which marked the end of public events held in conjunction with USU's centennial year, began with an academic procession from Old Main to the Spectrum.
Following Austad's remarks, the large gathering was entertained with a special Reader's Theater production entitled, "Launching the Second Century" and a performance of "Centennial Overture" by the USU Symphonic Orchestra.
Following the presentation of degrees, graduates and their families celebrated with a picnic luncheon on the USU campus decorated with special displays and flower arrangements.
Later in the afternoon, valedictorians addressed the respective colleges in separate ceremonies.