Western Commencement Marks 100th Anniversary of First Graduates and the Return of Graduate Programs, May 5

May 1, 2012 —This year’s commencement ceremony at Western State College of Colorado on May 5 will be one for the history books.

In addition to marking the 100th anniversary of Western’s first commencement exercises in May 1912, the event will include conferring the first master’s degrees since graduate programs were reinstated at Western. The College awarded its last graduate degrees in 1990 after the program was discontinued by the state legislature. In 2007, the legislature restored Western’s authority to offer graduate programs and the College started offering a master of arts degree in education and a master of fine arts in creative writing in 2010.

Western’s first graduating class in 1912 consisted of five students. This year, Western will confer degrees to approximately 350 students, including 27 master’s degree candidates, participating in the commencement exercises. The ceremony will start at 10 a.m. at the Mountaineer Bowl. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be moved indoors to the Paul Wright Gymnasium.

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Underwater explorer and 1969 Western history alumnus Barry Clifford will present the Commencement Address. Clifford is among the world’s best-known underwater archaeologic explorers. He made headlines with his 1984 discovery of the remains of the Whydah Galley, a pirate ship that wrecked in a storm near Cape Cod in 1717. That discovery, along with his current projects, have been the focus numerous articles and documentaries.

WSC Student Commencement Speaker Lacey (Piquette) Keane, of Gunnison, will continue a family legacy of Western graduates that started with her great-grandmother, Lucille Falkenburg Piquette, who graduated in 1929. On May 5, Keane will be the 22nd person in her family to graduate from Western. Her mother, Shannon Piquette, is a 1997 graduate, and her father, Dan Piquette, also is pursuing a degree at Western. In addition, Keane’s grandfather, Jerry Piquette earned two degrees from Western in 1961 and 1969, and also worked at the college as vice president for business affairs. She also married her Western college sweetheart, Paul Keane, who graduated in 2010. While at Western, Keane studied sociology with a minor in psychology. She put her studies to work as an intern with Western's Responsible Alcohol Partnership (WRAP), which provides educational programming and activities for Western students.

Commencement exercises will be streamed online at www.western.edu/graduation.

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Saturday, May 5, 2012 - 2:45am