Appearing before a capacity crowd in the Lee University auditorium Saturday, Governor Bill Haslam accepted an honorary doctorate from college officials, then challenged graduates to “live a life of faith” in a colorful winter commencement ceremony.
In his address to the group, Governor Bill Haslam urged graduates to consider what it means to graduate from a Christ-centered school and offered seven suggestions to the graduates as they move into the next phase of life.
The university also took this opportunity to confer its highest honor, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, to the governor during the ceremony.
“His example reminds us that the best life is the one which is pursued with energy and excellence, for the good not of oneself but for the good of others,” said Lee President Paul Conn, in his citation.
The graduation was the largest December commencement in the school’s history, granting 274 bachelor’s and master’s degrees. This is one of three graduation weekends at Lee each year; commencements are also held in May and July.
Well-wishers and guests filled the school’s Dixon Center and Squires Recital Hall, watching the festivities on-screen; an estimated 2400 guests were in attendance. The event was also streamed live over the university’s website.
Saturday’s ceremony was preceded by a hooding for students earning master's degrees and a Commissioning Service on Friday night, which featured six student speakers sharing their experiences at Lee.
Lee University is the largest private institution in East Tennessee, enrolling 4,400 students on its Cleveland campus.