725 candidates received undergraduate degrees at Plymouth State University’s 135th Commencement Exercises, held Saturday, May 20 at 10 a.m. The ceremony took place outdoors at Currier Field behind the PSU physical education center in Holderness. In addition to the conferral of degrees, several awards and recognitions were presented during the ceremony. Speakers shared advice, stories, memories and wisdom to celebrate the milestone with graduates and their families.
Saturday’s ceremony marked the final graduation ceremony for retiring President Donald P. Wharton, who offered words of advice for the graduating class. He advised graduates to be persistent, to find careers and vocations they loved, to learn from disappointments and failures, and to always remember where they came from. Wharton also reminded the class to be open to new opportunities and experiences.
“Opportunity in our lives often comes unexpectedly and from directions we don’t anticipate,” Wharton said. “Life is really more like a river than a highway, so be ready for its twists and turns, be ready to seize the opportunity you may not have anticipated.”
Representing the class of 1956, which celebrates its 50th reunion this year, Jeanette Lemire Marcucci shared memories of her own graduation from Plymouth Teachers College, when a class of only 62 students marched in caps and gowns.
“Few could envision our small alma mater would turn into a world class university,” she said.
Kelly Perdew, best known as the winner of the second season of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” delivered the commencement address. Perdew is an entrepreneur, author, television host, celebrity spokesperson and business leader who offered graduates advice from his new book, Take Command: 10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump. Perdew is the managing director of Angel-Led Venture Partners, a venture capital fund, and is working on several real estate projects, including a Florida self-storage facility and a 600-acre fishing and hunting preserve in Montana. Perdew is also host of the Military Channel’s series “GI Factory,” which explores military technology and history.
Perdew advised graduates to explore three important questions: “Where are you from?” “What are you doing here?” and “Where are you going?”
“Think about and learn from your past and all the challenges you’ve overcome,” said Perdew. “Use everything you learned at PSU to problem solve in the real world…Go forth and accomplish great things.”
Several honors were presented during the ceremony. President Wharton presented Dr. Virginia M. Barry, provost and vice president for academic affairs, with the Harold E. Hyde Award for Distinguished Educational Leadership for her commitment to higher education and innovation.
“You have enhanced educational opportunities for all the citizens of New Hampshire,” Wharton said.
Junior Jeremy Foskitt, former student body president and University System of New Hampshire student trustee, made a special presentation to President Wharton, on behalf of the students of Plymouth State University, to commemorate his 13 years of service.
“President Wharton has been an integral part of student success on campus. His commitment to students is unparalleled,” said Foskitt. “We could not be more proud to say that we are students who attend PSU.”
Wharton, an avid gardener, received an Adirondack chair and a gift certificate to a plant nursery. His wife, Carol, was given a single rose as a token of student appreciation.
Also during the ceremony, Dr. Wendy Palmquist, a professor of psychology, was awarded the 2006 Distinguished Teaching Award for her dedication to teaching, scholarship and meaningful, student-centered education during her 25 years of service to the University.
Plymouth State University presented honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees to former PSU business and law professor Jane Babin and Dr. Andrei Marga, rector at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. Babin, who retired from PSU in 2005 after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is an outstanding advocate for patients, families and health care professionals coping with the effects of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Marga is known for his commitment to multicultural, multilingual higher education in Romania and throughout Europe.
Plymouth State University (PSU) is a regional comprehensive university offering a rich, student-focused learning environment for both undergraduate and graduate students. PSU offers 42 majors and 62 minors in programs that include education, business, humanities, arts, and natural and social sciences. The College of Graduate Studies offers coursework that promotes research, best practices and reflection in locations on- and off-campus as well as online. For non-traditional students, PSU’s Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies offers working professionals opportunities to pursue an undergraduate degree by attending classes in the evenings, weekends and online. Located in a beautiful New England setting, Plymouth State University has been recognized as one of the “Best in the Northeast” by The Princeton Review.