LSU Awards 609 Degrees at Summer Commencement, Board of Supervisors Chair James Williams Delivers Keynote

BATON ROUGE – LSU alumnus and Chair of the Board of Supervisors James Williams delivered the keynote address, and 609 students received degrees during LSU’s 299th commencement ceremony on Friday, Aug. 2.

James Williams

LSU alumnus and Chair of the Board of Supervisors James Williams delivered the keynote address at summer commencement. Photo: LSU Strategic Communications

During his welcoming remarks, LSU President F. King Alexander, highlighted some of the records set by the summer graduating class, including new records for overall doctorate degrees awarded, graduate degrees awarded to African-American students, graduate degrees awarded to Hispanic students, doctorate degrees awarded to Asian students and undergraduate degrees for veteran students.

Alexander told the summer class that by graduating today, they are among the nation’s top 32nd percentile in educational achievement and success. Further, they are among the world’s top 7th percentile in educational success.

“In other words, the attainment of a college degree places you in an incredibly enviable position, both right here in the United States and around the world,” Alexander said. “As one of the world’s most educated citizens with the greatest potential to help others, you now are being handed a mantle that allows you to provide widespread hope and worldwide opportunity.”

Of the 609 graduates at summer commencement, 290 earned bachelor’s degrees, 147 earned master’s degrees, 10 received a certificate of education specialist, 16 received graduate certificates, 17 received post-baccalaureate certificates and 129 received doctoral degrees.

In the August 2019 graduating class, 37 Louisiana parishes, 35 U.S. states and 35 foreign countries were represented. Women made up 53.69 percent of the graduates, and men made up 46.31 percent. The oldest graduate was 69, and the youngest graduate was 19.

Alexander welcomed Williams, who received his bachelor’s degree from LSU exactly 24-years ago today and Juris Doctor degree from Washington & Lee School of Law, to deliver the keynote address.

Summer Commencement

In the August 2019 graduating class, 37 Louisiana parishes, 35 U.S. states and 35 foreign countries were represented. 

Photo: LSU Strategic Communcations

Williams congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments, but warned this isn’t the conclusion of their journey of learning, but just the beginning.

“LSU, and this graduation today, is a spark, not the end of the road. You take the foundation you have here, and then you begin your learning,” Williams said. “Nothing good in this world comes from being stagnant.”

By obtaining a college degree, the graduates have accomplished something most people in the world will never do, but Williams cautioned them about feeling like they’ve made it and already know everything.

“All of that success, combined with the energy of youth and the excitement of new endeavors, can create a false feeling, a false sense of confidence … the kind of confidence that turns to arrogance,” he said. “All of that success can create a feeling in you that you are done, that you’ve reached the mountaintop, but be careful of those feelings.”

Williams advised the graduates to not be afraid to fail, as failure is temporary; to get better every day; to approach life with an open mind and an open heart; and to not be afraid to keep learning.

“If you stop now and close your minds and hearts to this moment in time, you are going to miss the whole purpose of this education. You are going to miss the whole purpose of kindling that flame in you,” Williams said. “The spark that has been lit at LSU over these last many years for you, that’s the spark of learning.”

During summer commencement, 23 students graduated with honors, including two students who received a University Medal for graduating with the highest undergraduate grade-point average in the class.

The University Medalists included Laura Lynette Tracy, a native of LaPlace, La., who graduated from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences, and Chanelle Rose Trahan, a native of Baton Rouge, La., who graduated from the College of Humanities & Social Sciences.

Emiley Elizabeth Dillon, a native of Shreveport, La., received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Manship School of Mass Communication and is the first graduate of the school’s 3+3 Pre-Law Program. This six-year program allows Manship students to complete both a bachelor’s and a law degree with three years of full-time study at LSU and three years of full-time study at the LSU Law Center.

College of Human Sciences & Education graduate William Harrell Arata, a native of Bogalusa, La., earned the LSU Engaged Citizen distinction. The Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership, or CCELL, in conjunction with LSU Campus Life, established the Engaged Citizen Program, to support and recognize the accomplishments of undergraduate students who engage significantly with their communities to address critical community needs. To earn this distinction, the students must meet the high standards of the Engaged Citizen Program. Requirements include completion of a minimum of seven credit hours of service-learning designated coursework, a minimum of 100 hours of community service with approved organizations, and a reflective paper detailing how the work fulfills LSU’s commitment to community.

Among the university’s 609 graduates were 16 LSU faculty and staff members. Of the 16 employees who graduated, one received a bachelor’s degree, one received a graduate certificate, seven earned master’s degrees and seven earned doctoral degrees.

Mandi Lopez, LSU Faculty Senate vice president, served as mace bearer, and LSU Board of Supervisors member Valencia Sarpy Jones conferred degrees. The “Star-Spangled Banner” and LSU alma mater were performed by Khary Wilson, and the processional and recessional music were performed by the LSU School of Music Brass Quintet. LSU Alumni Association President and CEO Cliff Vannoy also provided the alumni welcome.



Contact Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations