Southern Delaware Convocation held May 27
UD President Patrick Harker awards a diploma during Southern Delaware Convocation.
Students applaud a speaker during Southern Delaware Convocation.
New UD graduates turn their tassels.
YoUDee joins recent graduates as they celebrate following Southern Delaware Convocation.
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4:49 p.m., May 30, 2009----Several hundred graduates, parents and friends gathered for the University of Delaware's annual Southern Delaware Convocation ceremony on Wednesday evening, May 27, in the Crystal Ballroom of the Milford Senior Center.

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UD President Patrick Harker told those graduating students in attendance that this is an accomplishment “to wear proudly,” and one “you will own for the rest of your lives” as part of the history and tradition of the University of Delaware.

The graduates had chosen to attend “one of the best universities in the country,” one that a fellow Blue Hen -- Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. -- said “just keeps getting better and better and better and better and better.”

Harker said the University has made Delaware First a priority in its Path to Prominence strategic plan, noting that UD must increase “our presence and our engagement in Southern Delaware.”

He cited the University's commitment to key goals of importance in Southern Delaware. These include developing sustainable energy sources, improving agricultural practices, preserving wetlands and the inland bays, creating prosperous communities and training teachers for the 21st century classroom.

And, Harker said, the University is exploring additional opportunities in Southern Delaware. “We are moving forward with plans to offer new bachelor's and master's degree programs in high-demand areas like health care, education, environmental sciences, agriculture and natural resources,” he said.

“Make no mistake,” Harker said, “Southern Delaware isn't just a key piece of our heritage; it's a critical part of our future.”

Harker encouraged students to consider putting their education to use for the greater good. “I hope you come to see that the ultimate value of your education isn't what it gains for you but what it gains for all those you'll help because of it,” he said. “Take your degree, take all the life lessons you learned while you set about earning it, and make someone else's life easier, happier, healthier, fuller and more rewarding. And then you'll know for sure what 'accomplishment' means.”

After Harker's address, graduates of the University's Associate in Arts Program were recognized by John Courtright, faculty director of the program.

Tom Apple, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and Michael Gamel-McCormick, dean of the College of Education and Public Policy, then recognized students from their colleges in attendance at the ceremony.

The students were then greeted by Shante Hastings, president of the University of Delaware Alumni Association.

UD Provost Dan Rich, who recently announced that he will retire from that position to return to the faculty, closed the program.