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Grads urged to ‘give back, make a difference’

PULLMAN, Wash. – Washington State University today awarded an Honorary Doctoral Degree to Governor Chris Gregoire for her work as a champion of education. Gregoire was on campus as the keynote speaker for the first of three separate commencement ceremonies held today on the university’s main campus.
“I can tell you from personal experience that Governor Gregoire has worked tirelessly to build the best education system in the world,” said WSU President Elson S. Floyd said in granting the degree. “Her visionary leadership recognizes the need for research programs at our universities that boost innovation and increase global competitiveness – particularly in aerospace, high-tech and biotechnology.”
The three ceremonies held today on the Pullman campus, all presided over by WSU President Elson S. Floyd at Beasley Coliseum, marked the university’s 116th spring commencement.  The honorary doctorate given Gregoire is only the 26th ever granted by WSU Board of Regents.
Gregoire said she felt a special kinship with the more than 800 graduates of the WSU College of Liberal Arts. Pointing out that she, too, earned her undergraduate degree in liberal arts before going on to law school, the governor said the value of a liberal arts education is that it teaches students “how to think critically and to never stop learning.”
“Now more than ever we need smart, committed, caring people like you to give back, and to be engaged, said Gregoire. ” This is your world to shape – we need your help and we need you to stay true to your values!
Floyd also served as the keynote speaker for the 11:30 ceremony for about 890 graduates of the Colleges of Business, Communication and Education, as well as for the 3 p.m. ceremony for about 915 graduates of the Colleges of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, Engineering and Architecture, Nursing, Pharmacy, Sciences and Veterinary Medicine.
He urged graduates at both ceremonies to remain close to friends and family as they embark on a new phase in their lives.
“Never forget that the real mark of your character comes from not how you react to your successes, of which I know there will be many,” said Floyd. “It is rather how you react to your failures, of which there will be, if you are bold, a number in your lifetime.”
In addition to today’s ceremonies in Pullman, spring commencements have been or will be held this month at WSU’s regional campuses in Vancouver, Tri-Cities, and Spokane.
WSU officials said a total of 6,574 degrees were awarded by the university on all campuses during the 2011-2012 academic year, including those awarded this week and in separate ceremonies late last year. The total includes 5,594 bachelor’s degrees, 761 master’s degrees and 219 doctoral degrees.
Darin Watkins, WSU News, (509) 335-4456,
For video – Matt Haugen, WSU News, 509-335-0487,
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Gov. Chris Gregoire (during speech)
“Now more than ever we need smart, committed, caring people like you to give back, and to be engaged. This is your world to shape – we need your help and we need you to stay true to your values.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire (in receiving an Honorary Doctorate from WSU)
“It took me 40 years to get my Washington State University degree – and I am proud, I am proud – proud I am in joining you in saying “Go Cougs!”

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