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Northwest Missouri State University


News Release

Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski addresses the University's 2013 winter class of graduates as a capacity crowd watches in Bearcat Arena.

Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski addresses the University's 2013 winter class of graduates as a capacity crowd watches in Bearcat Arena. (Photos by Darren Whitley/University Relations)

Dec. 14, 2013

Northwest awards 468 degrees during winter commencement

Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski poses for a photo with a graduate on the commencement stage.

Above, Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski poses for a photo with a graduate on the commencement stage. Below, Dr. John Gardner, the co-founder and president of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, delivered the afternoon’s commencement address.

Dr. John Gardner, the co-founder and president of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, delivered the afternoon’s commencement address.

Northwest Missouri State University awarded 468 students with their academic degrees during its winter commencement ceremony Friday, Dec. 13.

The University awarded 372 bachelor’s degrees, 88 master’s degrees and eight specialists in education degree candidates. The top undergraduate majors in the graduating class was elementary education and the top graduate degree was applied computer science.

Members of the graduating class ranged in age from 20 to 61 years old. The class included 298 Missouri residents, and the graduates represented seven different countries are including Brazil, India, Korea, People’s Republic of China, Togo and the United Kingdom.

The total number of graduates was the second highest for a winter commencement ceremony in the school’s history. Northwest awarded 472 degrees in 2004, making that the highest number for a winter commencement.  

In his remarks to the graduates, Northwest President Dr. John Jasinski praised the graduates for their courage, persistence and successes. He encouraged the graduates to contribute to the communities they go on to serve and challenged them to be future-focused.

Evoking the legacy of Nelson Mandela, whose life was celebrated earlier in the week, Jasinski also asked the graduates to contribute to the betterment of their “little places.”

“I implore you to use your education and keep learning and growing. Go out and be part of the solution. Stay positive and focus forward by helping others, helping your communities and being servant leaders,” Jasinski said.

Dr. John Gardner, the co-founder and president of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, delivered the afternoon’s commencement address. The Gardner Institute works with colleges and universities, including Northwest, to increase student learning and retention.

Recognizing Gardner for his friendship with Northwest, which now spans three decades, the University bestowed on him an honorary degree, doctor of pedagogy, in recognition of, Jasinski said, his “enduring commitment to student success, your stellar leadership and guidance provided to innumerable institutions and individuals, and your unwavering dedication to higher education.”

During his address, Gardner had some fun with graduates and reflected with them on their college careers, asking for a show of hands to questions such as the number of students who changed majors, who have secured employment after graduation, who plan to “chill out for a while” and, most importantly, Gardner said, how many planned to go forth to serve their country. Gardner asked all graduates to raise their hands to the last question, because “that’s what we prepared you to do.”

It takes a village to raise a college graduate, Gardner said, noting the family members, friends and teachers who helped the students on the way to completing their degrees. He charged the graduates with honoring their parents and mentors by showing gratitude, spending time with them and remaining involved in the life of Northwest.   

“This is a place that gave you a chance when you entered as yet untested and unproven and provided you with a fine education with now a lifetime of wonderful friends and colleagues and fellow Bearcats and even more.”

Gardner added, “We want you go forth and be leaders in these new work settings you’re heading for, graduate school, neighborhoods, churches, military units, friendship groups, precinct caucuses – any legitimate legal context in our society.”

At the conclusion of his address, Gardner announced to the crowd he planned to do something he had never done at a commencement ceremony. He then unzipped his rope and revealed he was wearing a T-shirt with words the Northwest community knows so well: “Once a Bearcat, always a Bearcat!”

The University’s afternoon commencement ceremony also included the commissioning of Kyle Sander, an ROTC cadet, as a second lieutenant in U.S. Army. Sander, of Smithville, received his bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Northwest.

Founded in 1905, Northwest Missouri State University is a comprehensive university that offers 124 undergraduate degree programs, 40 graduate-level programs, and one doctorate program in cooperation with the University of Missouri-Columbia. Northwest is a vibrant, residential campus with an enrollment of more than 6,400 students, representing 45 states and 30 countries.


For more information, please contact:

Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
mhorn@nwmissouri.edu | 660.562.1704 | Fax: 660.562.1900

Northwest Missouri State University
215 Administration Building | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468