SUU boasts largest graduation rate of any Intermountain West public university; STGnews Videocast, Photo Gallery

CEDAR CITY – At the Southern Utah University commencement ceremony Friday, it was announced that this year’s SUU graduating class has claimed the status of having the largest graduation rate of any public university in the seven-state Intermountain West region, with a total of 1,643 graduates: 928 women and 715 men. (See ed. note)

SUU President Scott L. Wyatt greets the 2015 graduates at the commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
SUU President Scott L. Wyatt greets the 2015 graduates at the commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May 1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

The news was met with resounding applause as SUU President Scott L. Wyatt addressed the graduating class:

Allow me to go to fine point on this. We are awarding 1,312 undergraduate degrees today. If the graduation rate at SUU was not the highest but rather, let’s say, equal to the average graduation rate of the other three regional universities in Utah, there would not be 1,312 of you graduating today; there would only be 784.”

The 116th SUU graduating class included students from 19 countries, 26 states and 27 of the 29 counties in Utah, Wyatt said.

2015 commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
2015 commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May 1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

Among the 1,643 graduates, SUU awarded 320 master’s degrees, 1,005 bachelor’s and 307 associate degrees, along with 11 special education certificates to students ranging from 17 years old to 64 and including 63 married couples, according to SUU’s website.

Wyatt praised the hard work and dedication of the university’s “outstanding faculty and staff” for their tenacity in helping propel students into successful opportunities. He said he truly believes they are the unique factor that allows SUU students to excel in every possible way.

Graduate Rebecka Horlacher, who received her bachelor’s degree in nursing Friday, said her experience in the SUU nursing program helped her create valuable networking opportunities, which helped her land a position she loves at a hospital in Salt Lake City.

Rebecka Horlacher, Bachelor of Science in Nursing Southern Utah University Graduate after the 2015 commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Rebecka Horlacher poses for a photo after receiving her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May 1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

“This is an extraordinary place made up of extraordinary individuals,” Wyatt said.

He said students at SUU have such a high retention rate, in part, because of the valuable networking skills that faculty and staff bring to the table.

Honorary doctoral degrees in public service were given to Georgia Beth Thompson, Harold H. Hiskey and the late Aline W. Skaggs for their outstanding commitments to public service and the university. A slideshow was shown chronicling the lives of each recipient before the degrees were awarded in their honor.

Reverend France A. Davis speaks at the 2015 commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News
Reverend France A. Davis speaks at the 2015 commencement ceremony, Southern Utah University Centrum Arena, Cedar City, Utah, May 1, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

The student graduation address was given by Brantz M. Woolsey.

During the commencement address, delivered by Reverend France A. Davis, students were reminded that greatness can be born out of turbulent times. In a society where realities like the Boston riots are still taking place, Davis said, there is much work left to be done by the generations yet to come.

“So, here are some steps that I would like to suggest that you would consider as graduates,” he said. “Now that you have prepared for productive living and the ground is swelling pregnant, I suggest to you – for change – I suggest that you engage yourselves with others in productive living.

“I suggest that you become servants, servants that help our society to grow, and I suggest that you remember that you may, in fact, fall down, but get back up again,” he added.

Ed. note: Correction made regarding graduation rate. Correction reflected in headline.

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