The First of Three Commencement Exercises Commemorating the University’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary Highlighted by Recognition of Morgan’s 50,000th Graduate
Roland S. Martin, nationally syndicated columnist, author and noted broadcast journalist, was the keynote speaker at Morgan State University’s (MSU) 2016 December Commencement celebration, the first of three special commencement ceremonies commemorating Morgan’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary. During the commencement exercises, held in the Talmadge Hill Field House before Morgan faculty, staff, alumni, students and their families and friends, President David Wilson and the MSU Board of Regents conferred a total of 437 degrees – the highest number awarded since the university began December graduation in 2013.
“Throughout Morgan’s storied history, commencement has remained that most special occasion for the University, our students and their families,” said President Wilson. “This December’s ceremony took on an added significance, as it marked the beginning of Morgan’s Sesquicentennial Anniversary celebration. For 150 years, Morgan has been a major center for the exchange of ideas and a cultural touchstone for the community that we serve, and it was only fitting that Roland Martin, one of the voices of this generation, imparted words of inspiration to our next group of leaders.”
A spirited Martin delivered a rousing message to the graduates, challenging them to “walk in your destiny” while overcoming the odds and becoming who they were meant to be in life. His non-traditional and often unscripted remarks were well-received by the many in attendance. Roland Martin, no stranger to lending his voice to the important issues of the day affecting African Americans, is the host and managing editor of TV One’s NewsOne Now, a daily morning news program that focuses on analysis of politics. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist and serves as senior analyst for The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
The ceremony also was highlighted by the recognition of those seniors receiving top honors. The overall highest ranking student was Heather Gonzalez-Yager (Elkton, Md.) who received her B.S. in Electrical Engineering, graduating with a straight 4.0 cumulative average and 138 credits. The President’s Second Mile Award, which is presented to a graduating senior committed to the enhancement of campus life, was awarded to former Miss Morgan, Jillian Curry (Edison, NJ), who graduated with a B.S. in Elementary Education, and the President’s Award for Creative Achievement, which recognizes an exceptional contribution of a creative nature, was awarded to Andrew M. Ngure (Baltimore, Md.), who graduated with a B.S. in Architecture and Environmental Design. Additionally, the 257th person to cross the stage at commencement, senior Joseph L. Jones of Baltimore, who received a B.S. in Computer Science, became the 50,000th person to graduate from Morgan State University since 1867.
President Wilson and Board Chairman Kweisi Mfume also awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Willie E. Lanier Sr., a Morgan alumnus and chair of the MSU Foundation board. Lanier, who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and a successful businessman, recently bestowed a $500,000 gift to establish an endowed lectureship in business ethics at Morgan’s Earl G. Graves School of Business and Management. Since his graduation from Morgan in 1967, he has been a standout both on and off the field as a professional, ultimately making his mark in business as the president and CEO of Virginia-based Lanier Group LLC.
Lastly, a posthumous degree was awarded to student Dmitri T. Clemons, a civil engineering major from Silver Spring, Md., who died unexpectedly in September 2016 after meeting his requirements for graduation. Clemons’ mother accepted the degree on his behalf.
Morgan State University, founded in 1867, is a Carnegie-classified Doctoral Research Institution offering more than 70 academic programs leading to bachelor’s degrees as well as programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. As Maryland’s premier public urban research university, Morgan serves a multiethnic and multiracial student body and seeks to ensure that the doors of higher education are opened as wide as possible to as many as possible. More information about the university is available at www.morgan.edu.
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Clinton R. Coleman or Larry Jones