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SLIDE SHOW: UC Celebrates a Record Number of Graduates

Commencement speaker and UC alumnus Earl Hamner tells graduates they’re the hope and promise of a better world.

Date: 6/14/2008 12:00:00 AM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Lisa Ventre, Andrew Higley

UC ingot  

The University of Cincinnati celebrated its 189th Commencement on June 14 during two ceremonies in Fifth Third Arena at Shoemaker Center.

View the Slide Show of Commencement

View the video archive of the Commencement ceremonies

Spring marked the largest number of students – 4,555 of them – to reach graduation status in 20 years. In addition to the crowd of graduates, crowds of proud families and friends packed Fifth Third Arena for both ceremonies.


“Throughout the year our university has much to celebrate, and this year offered us many reasons to cheer,” said UC President Nancy L. Zimpher, citing the $420 million PACE in-kind contribution, the largest in UC’s history; the student-built solar house that was exhibited in Washington, D.C.; and a spectacular football season. “But, today tops all of that, with our UC Class of 2008, gathered here before us,” Zimpher said.

At both ceremonies, President Zimpher pointed out three empty chairs draped with caps and gowns, in tribute to three people with ties to UC who had died in the line of service. Staff Sergeant Keith Matthew “Matt” Maupin was a UC student when his Army Reserve unit was called up for service in Iraq. Fire Captain Robin Broxterman was completing her bachelor’s degree in fire science (the degree was awarded posthumously), and fellow firefighter Brian Schira was a graduate of the criminal justice program in the College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services. Between ceremonies, an honorary bachelor’s for outstanding community service was presented to each of their families at a private reception. At the ceremonies, President Zimpher called for a moment of silence to remember those fallen heroes as well as Sycamore graduate and soldier Brandon Haunert, who had briefly attended UC.


The Saturday ceremonies drew nearly 20,000 people to Fifth Third Arena. Jason Waller delivered the university oration for the morning ceremony, telling graduates that they accomplished something that surpassed their academic achievements. “We now have a better sense of who we are,” he said. Waller told the graduates they were all products of the six goals of UC|21 and encouraged them to lay the framework for the “seven lessons of Graduate 21” – speak the truth, act justly, keep a positive attitude but remain humble, be thankful, edify their colleagues, don’t settle, and educate and mentor the youth. “They are your future and you are their future,” Waller said.

Presidential Leadership Medal recipient Jerry Tsai presented the university oration for the afternoon ceremony, saying there was much to celebrate. “It’s because of the help of many others that we are on the verge of walking across this stage and receiving a diploma.” Tsai said family members, faculty, mentors and friends all helped graduates get to their special day. He added that with their education, graduates now had a newfound power and also had a responsibility to give back and make the world a better place. “We will always make sure that our generation will learn from our past, aspire for our future, but more than anything else, will live for today,” Tsai said.


Commencement speaker Earl Hamner, an alumnus of the College-Conservatory of Music, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Performing Arts Degree during the afternoon ceremony. He also paid tribute to the person he said shared his life and his labor over the past 54 years, his wife, Jane. “It’s good to be back at a university that I love and to be back in a city that I love. Both have been most generous to me and I am grateful,” Hamner said.

Hamner, an author and creator of the long-running television series, “The Waltons,” said that his work is inspired by the family and neighbors he grew up with in the mountains of Virginia during the Great Depression. “They were decent, God-fearing, patriotic people. Like most Appalachian folk, they were frugal, proud and self-reliant. To write about such people it was inevitable that our stories deal with love and honor, pity and pride, compassion and sacrifice. And so much of our writing became a celebration of those traditional American values,” Hamner said.

“Some would have us believe that those values no longer have meaning, that they are quaint, outmoded relics of an older time. I believe they are more alive and well than our films and television and newspapers would have us believe. We’d be foolish to deny that stories of drugs, deception, scandal and crime capture the headlines, but that is not the America I know, nor is it the country I believe most of us know and honor. I believe there is more compassion than crime in our country, that there is more hope than heroin, more virtue than violence and more good than evil,” said Hamner.

Hamner told the graduates that they were citizens of the “greatest county in the world, with all of the rights and protections and opportunities that this country can afford.


“The parents of my generation handed us a world that was recovering from a depression, only to be engulfed by a world war. We are handing you an equally uncertain world, but I think you can handle it. So go with the blessing of all of us who have gone before you. You are our hope and our promise of a better world,” Hamner said.

Martina Jones, vice president of the Senior Class, remarked that the Class of 2008 had raised more than $11,000 toward the senior class gift to the university. The Senior Class Officers are proposing a Bearcat statue for campus in conjunction with help from Sigma Sigma.

UC’s Doctoral Hooding and Master’s Recognition Ceremony was held June 13 at Fifth Third Arena.