Dignitary trifecta, record numbers highlight graduation

A record 1,591 undergraduate and graduate students completed requirements to earn degrees from SDSU at the school’s 126th commencement exercises May 5.

Those students were part of an audience that included the governor of South Dakota, a member of Congress, and a U.S. ambassador.

Gov. Dennis Daugaard was there to see his niece graduate. U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem, who received her Bachelor of Science degree in political science, spoke on behalf of the students.

U.S. Ambassador Laurie (Klinkel) Fulton, who addressed the undergraduates at the Frost Arena assembly, received an honorary doctorate. Her message was “A Life of Choices and No Regrets.” The ambassador to Denmark is a former Brookings resident who attended SDSU in the late 1960s and married State alumnus Tom Daschle in June 1969.

State Rep. Scott Munsterman of Brookings delivered the commencement address at the graduate ceremony.

The record count tops the 2009 mark of 1,427 and far outdistances counts of 1,419 in 2010 and 1,237 in 2011.

This year’s count features 1,242 undergraduates and 349 graduate students. Both of those numbers also are records. The previous highs were 1,189 undergraduates in 2009 and 320 graduates in 2010.

The 2012 numbers do merit an asterisk. The 2011-12 school year marked the first time there was no winter graduation, so some of this spring’s graduates would have been eligible for the December ceremony.

About 1,000 participated in the two May 5 ceremonies.

Honorary marshals were retiring faculty members Gail Tidemann, dean of continuing and extended education, and Gordon Tolle, professor of history and political science, (undergraduate ceremony), and Delvin DeBoer, professor of civil engineering and director of the of the Water and Environmental Engineering Research Center, and Mylo Hellickson, professor of agricultural and biosystems engineering, (graduate ceremony).

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