Goodbye, Class of 2008!

By Tom

No, not the high school Class of 2008 – we’re looking forward to seeing you on campus this fall and giving you a warm hello! I mean our own Class of 2008, this year’s senior Spiders. Sunday, May 11th, marked the 178th Commencement Exercises of the University of Richmond.

Graduation weekend is a really exciting time here on campus – most of the underclassmen have left already for summer vacation, but the seniors are here to get ready for the big day, families and alumni are in town for the festivities, and there’s a lot going on. All three undergraduate colleges, as well as individual departments, held receptions throughout the day on Saturday to recognize their graduating seniors. Saturday night was the Candlelight Ceremony, when the graduating class gathered around Westhampton Lake after dark for a time of reflection on their four years here. Sunday morning was Baccalaureate, another opportunity for reflection and meditation.

And Sunday afternoon was the big ceremony: graduation itself. I was in attendance, and it brought back vivid memories of my own graduation. There is a lot of pomp and circumstance in the ceremony – from the opening procession of the University Mace and each college’s banner, to the faculty procession in full academic regalia (which sometimes looks pretty ridiculous, especially when these are professors you know really well wearing crazy-colored robes and hoods and poofy hats), to the formal walk across the stage, the singing of the Alma Mater, and the tossing of caps.

It was an interesting juxtaposition for me, to have just finished recruiting next year’s incoming class and then to see these students, four years farther along in their own journey, making their exit from the University. The Class of 2008 has a lot to be proud of – you can read about their accomplishments all over our website – and now they are moving on to the next exciting phase of life, some entering the working world, others going to graduate school, and still others volunteering a year or two of their time to service organizations like Teach for America or the Peace Corps. Graduation was a neat opportunity to recognize these accomplishments, and to celebrate together the transition into the next step beyond undergraduate studies.

I am certain that, like thousands of UR alums before them, the members of the Class of 2008 will be successful in everything they do, and I look forward to hearing about their future accomplishments in the years and decades to come. But for now they will be missed here on campus – especially, for us in the Office of Admission, those who have worked as student admission representatives, senior fellows, and office interns. A special shout-out goes to our interns from this year, who helped make a lot of our Admission programming possible: Claire, Kyra, Eric, Christine, and Carson. Good luck and best wishes to all of you!

The crowd filling the Robins Center – parents, families, and friends.

The beginning of the faculty procession.

And in come the graduates.

The Class of 2008. You can just make out the different-colored stoles: white in the foreground, for a Bachelor of Arts; gold in the middle, for a Bachelor of Science; beige at the far end, for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration; and, in the very far right-hand corner, blue for a Bachelor of Arts in Leadership Studies.

Dr. Ayers, President of the University (note the Chain of Office, or what I like to call the “Presidential Bling” – unfortunately, you can’t see the giant pendant hanging on the end of the chain, with the University Seal on it.)

The ubiquitous Leland Melvin, our first Spider in Space, now serving as Commencement Speaker.

Graduates from the School of Arts and Sciences receiving their diplomas.

…and there go the caps!

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