COLUMBIA — At the beginning of the College of Arts and Science commencement, Dean Michael O'Brien made it clear that he wanted a lot of noise to be projected through the Hearnes Center: "If you have cowbells and air horns, I urge you to use them!" he belted, and members of the audience complied when their graduates crossed the stage.
The College of Arts and Science gave more than 1,000 degrees to graduates at 1 p.m. at the Hearnes Center. The Saturday ceremony was one of several held this weekend for graduates. The Honors Convocation, held at 8:30 a.m. at Mizzou Arena, recognized 1,324 graduates.
The ceremonies were two of the eight commencements held Saturday. In total, there are 17 ceremonies over the course of graduation weekend.
Howard Richards, a former right tackle for the MU football team and current color analyst for Missouri football broadcasts, addressed the graduates. He took up O'Brien's advice to be loud and called for a traditional MU celebration by chanting "M-I-Z!" Naturally, the audience returned in full force: "Z-O-U!"
"There are many things that make Mizzou a great place to learn," Richards said. "Its powerful residents in this state of Missouri and its rich traditions make it a desired place to grow and earn a degree."
UM System President Tim Wolfe spoke at the Honors ceremony, making note that the Honors program at MU was one of the first in the nation, established in 1959, and is often imitated by other universities in the country.
"You have the distinction of being the very best in your field," Wolfe said. "You are all ambassadors for higher education in this rough economy."
Stan Baldwin, father of honors graduate Sally Baldwin, said she was always a high achiever and that she "totally loved" MU.
"In high school she always put grades and academics at the top," he said.
Ron Powers, Pulitzer Prize winner and MU journalism alum, was invited to speak at the Honors ceremony and recounted a story about baseball and how to "play the game right." For him, the deeper meaning of the story was about having a responsibility to uphold tradition.
"It had introduced me to a version of myself that I had almost forgotten," Powers said. He related this back to his journalism experience at MU, where he realized journalism is a public trust and there is "great responsibility" that comes with it.
Students and families echoed this sentiment.
"She's always expected the best from herself," said Rebekah Conley, mother of honors graduate Vicki Conley. "Always expects herself to do the best. She always did her own homework. I never had to ask."
Sarah Pupillo, an honors graduate, had a hard time putting into words how much she had grown at MU.
"Mizzou has definitely shaped me into a professional educator," she said. "I feel like I'm ready to enter the teaching profession."
Near the end of the Honors Convocation, Brian Foster, provost at MU, left the audience with a piece of advice, "The most precious resource you have, and some of us learn this too late in life, is your time here on Earth."