J. Stanley Rogers, vice chairman of the Tennessee Board of Regents, gave the keynote address, offering graduates wise instruction for pursuing their dreams.
“To perfect the art of becoming a reliable person, [founding father Ben] Franklin wrote out a ‘Plan for Future Conduct.’ It consisted of four rules,” he said.
Franklin’s first rule, Rogers said, was to be “extremely frugal” until he had paid his debts, and his second rule was to try to be truthful in every instance.
His third rule of conduct was to “apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand . . . for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.”
Franklin’s fourth and final rule of conduct was to speak ill of no man.
“You can hold fast to your dreams because of the dreams of Ben Franklin and the other founders of this great nation,” Rogers told graduates. “You can hold fast to your dreams because of the support and assistance you have received from parents and friends, professors, the administration of TTU and the guidance of [President] Bob Bell.
“But most importantly,” he concluded, “you can hold fast to your dreams because of your accomplishments today and your accomplishments tomorrow.”
Saturday’s commencement exercises brought the number of TTU graduates since 1915 to more than 55,000. The university’s newest alumni represented 12 states including Tennessee, 71 Tennessee counties and 11 foreign countries.
Degrees were awarded in 35 undergraduate fields of study and 18 graduate fields. Seven doctor of philosophy degrees were conveyed — four in engineering, two in exceptional learning and one in environmental sciences.
During commencement, Bell recognized the retirement of Kenneth Kintz, associate professor of foreign languages, and introduced David Viera and George Buchanan, winners of the 2004 Donald Caplenor Faculty Research Award.
He also recognized the university’s first ever distance MBA graduates. The distance MBA program provides course content through CD-ROM and Internet delivery processes, enabling students to take classes without being on campus.
Bell acknowledged another special student among the day’s graduates — Holly Beth Anderson, a blind student from Putnam County who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business management.
Earlier in the day, Jason B. Blackston, a military science student in Saturday’s graduating class, who earned a degree in foreign language – Spanish, received a commission as second lieutenant.