AU graduates largest class; more than 550 students

Thu, 2012-07-26 11:32 -- univcomm
There’s certain things Dr. Larry Osnes said he wished he’d learned when he was a student at Anderson University. The man who was a history professor at AU from 1969 to 1983 and is now president of Hamline University in Minnesota, said there are things that can be taught, if we listen, and things we learn along the way. So to the Anderson University Class of 2004, Osnes parlayed certain he wished he’d learned sooner [VIEW THE WEBCAST]. “So if you listen, I can save you 40 years,” Osnes said. He said there’s an advantage to having a lively intellectual curiosity, an interest in everything because everything is relative to everything else. He said it’s good to have a genuine interest in what other people think and why they think that way. To be able to do that, Osnes said, means being at peace with oneself.

Osnes said people should have a way of envisioning the future that is different from the trends.

“Trends are not destiny,” said Osnes, adding that often in the midst of chaos, it is the person who thinks differently about things that makes the difference, Osnes said.

He assured the students that crises are normal, tensions are regular and tragedy will happen. Osnes said when he graduated from college, he was unprepared for tragedy, and has had to live through it at times.

“So I think we should plan for it,” Osnes said.

One thing he remembered former AU President Robert Reardon once said is, if you want to understand a person, scratch them until you find their tragedy.

But Osnes also told the graduates to picture the world with unwarranted optimism

“The worst think that can happen is you’ll be disappointed,” Osnes said. “That’s far worse than not achieving a creative solution.”

One last thing Osnes said he wished he’d learned earlier is to have a sense of gratefulness. So he said the graduates should thank their parents and others who have played a role in their lives.

“Thank them for their contribution to your life, and be specific, tell them why,” Osnes said. “I wish I had learned that 40 years ago.”

With more than 500 students, this year’s graduating class was the largest the university has had. Last year AU graduated about 500 students, and less than that the year before, said AU spokesman, Chris Williams.

AU President James L. Edwards attributed the large class to the swelling graduate programs and climbing enrollment of undergraduates. He said next year the university will graduate its first doctor of business administration.

Hector Arocha of Venezuela, who graduated Saturday with a masters in business administration, said he looked at different schools before he enrolled at AU. He said he believed the university was on a good path for the future for more graduate programs.

What also boosted commencement attendance was the students who will officially finish school this summer.

“But we let them walk anyway,” Edwards said.

Since the university is adding programs, Edwards anticipated enrollment to grow with them.

When Osnes graduated from AU in 1963, it estimated a graduating class of about 250 students. At that time, the nursing school was new and the business school didn’t yet exist. So Osnes said he’s found the growth surprising.

He’s also noticed changes in the campus and the University.

“The academic programs, I think, are significantly stronger, but there’s also an essence of sameness,” Osnes said.

He said bedrock values such as integrity, honestly and commitment to service have remained.

Whether they were receiving a bachelor’s or master’s degree, that didn’t stop encouraging shouts, such as, “that’s my brother!” to “I love you, Ruby!” from family and friends in the stands at Warner Auditorium.

“It kind of feels like a dream, I’m just floating through” said Abigail Buttons, of Lineboro, N.H. who graduated Saturday with a degree in elementary education.

Bryan French, who graduated with a degree in secondary education said he hopes to carry what he’s learned over the last four years into his future.

“I hope I can make the world a better place because of college,” French said.

-- Writer Kate House is a reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.