RSU Honors Graduates at 112th Commencement May 11

  • RSU held two commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 11, honoring the graduating Class of 2024.

Rogers State University conferred nearly 700 degrees and certificates during its 112th commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 11, at the Claremore Expo Center.

The university held two commencement ceremonies, with graduates from the College of Professional Studies receiving their diplomas in the morning and graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences being recognized in the afternoon.

Ceremonies began with the Mace Bearer’s Proclamation by Dr. Hugh Foley, followed by the singing of the National Anthem by Natalie Martin, and – for the final time – welcoming remarks by retiring RSU President Dr. Larry Rice.

“Welcome to the 112th commencement ceremony of Rogers State University,” Dr. Rice began. “You’re about to witness a special occasion. Today, we’re conferring certificates, associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees upon candidates who have satisfied all academic requirements.

“The commencement ceremony is an academic tradition that extends back beyond the history of this great institution,” he continued. “This ceremony is also part of the tradition of higher education in America, as envisioned by Thomas Jefferson, who is represented at the entrance of the RSU campus, welcoming scholars to our institution of learning. Indeed, the ceremonial traditions extend back through the centuries, as teachers and learners celebrate the pursuit of knowledge, answers, insight and wisdom.”

Rice then introduced the distinguished guests present for commencement, during which, he made a special request.

“This is my last commencement – that I know of – and I’d like to make a point of personal privilege,” he said. “This is the first time in 16 years that the First Lady Peggy Rice has not been here. I would ask you to join us in a moment of silence to mark her passing and mark her service and all of her dedication and memory. She was with me, side by side, in everything I did for the past 16-and-a-half years, so if you could, join me in a moment of silence.”

Following the moment of silence in Peggy Rice’s memory, President Rice introduced Cherokee Nation Councilman and attorney Kevin Easley Jr., who in turn, introduced guest speaker Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chuck Hoskin, Jr., whom he described as “the greatest chief in the history of the Cherokee Nation.”

“I bring you greetings from the great Cherokee Nation,” Hoskin began. “I was preparing for today and thinking about my own college graduation – about the powerful words of the commencement speaker and how much those words shaped my life. Whatever my words mean to you, the most important thing happening today is that you’re getting this college degree and that the rest of us get to bear witness to it.

“The Cherokee Nation is the nation you know because you attend Rogers State University – a great institution here within the Cherokee Nation reservation,” he said. “Ours is a nation whose triumphs are greater than our tragedies. The 20th Century was my grandfather’s century, and for the last 50 years, we’ve been getting stronger and stronger – and ours is a nation that recently donated $4 million to build a new STEM building here at Rogers State University. Our ancestors knew that higher education was a great investment, and it still is. We need to invest more – not less – in higher education in this state. What I’m telling you graduates is that you are one of the best investments this state has ever made, and you’ve made one of the best investments in yourself that you could ever make.

“The message I want to share with you comes down to one word in the Cherokee language and that word is ‘Gadugi,’ which means ‘working together,’” he said. “That’s a simple word, whether in English or in Cherokee. Cherokees have been at our best when we’ve had the good sense to work with our neighbors.”

“More than your earning potential is your potential to help us form a just society, where people, governments and institutions are focused more on what unites us than what divides us. The examples you set may be the most consequential part of your lives,” Hoskin said.

“We’re at our best when we’re united and when we’re truly working together, we’ll see something more than greatness – we’ll see goodness,” he said. “We’ll see that it takes all of us to achieve the kind of society we want to see. I want to encourage you to use your degree to lead a good life, to use this new earning power to achieve greatness, but don’t forget the Cherokee word for working together – ‘Gadugi.’ Do your part to increase goodness. That’s what really makes us so great.”

After Hoskin’s address, Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Richard Beck acknowledged RSU’s retiring faculty members, and then recognized students graduating with academic honors and certified the graduates. Dr. Rice then conferred the degrees upon the graduates.

In total, RSU awarded 696 degrees and certificates to the graduating class of 2024. Among these were 59 graduates with master’s degrees, 451 bachelor’s degrees, 119 associate degrees, 65 micro-credentials, and two certificates.

Rogers State University is a regional university serving northeastern Oklahoma and is the only four-year public residential university in the Tulsa metropolitan area.

View a complete list of graduates on the RSU website. Watch the morning commencement ceremony (College of Professional Studies) or the afternoon commencement ceremony (College of Arts and Sciences) on YouTube.