AMHERST, Mass. - University of Massachusetts President William M. Bulger told master''s and doctoral candidates at UMass Amherst Graduate School Commencement ceremonies to take pride in their degrees, which, he pointed out, represent an educational achievement attained by only a small number of people on this planet.
"You now have received more education than most people on this earth will ever have," he said. He added that "a superb faculty has helped you attain this superb status."
About 400 master''s degree candidates and 200 doctoral degree candidates out of approximately 1,300 eligible Graduate School candidates attended the ceremony, as did some 4,000 guests, mainly family members and friends, in the William D. Mullins Memorial Center on an overcast but rain-free morning. An outdoor reception was held immediately after the ceremony under a huge tent next to the Mullins Center.
Amherst Chancellor David K. Scott told the graduates they represent a significant part of the University''s history, receiving their degrees 50 years to the month after UMass received university status from the state legislature. When the school was founded in 1863, it was called Massachusetts Agricultural College. In 1931, it was renamed Massachusetts State College. On May 6, 1947, it was renamed the University of Massachusetts.
"We have come a long way since that significant day," Scott said, pointing out that this year a new book, "The Rise of American Research Universities" (Johns Hopkins University Press), ranks UMass as tied for 18th in the country out of 131 public research colleges. The book''s authors combined citation rankings to find the top science, social science, and arts and humanities programs, and call their work the first totally objective ranking among the many college ratings.
"This [ranking] is a great achievement," Scott said, an achievement made possible in great part "by the quality of work of UMass faculty and graduate students." Scott urged the graduates to be staunch supporters of the University, "so that the great experiment begun here 50 years ago does not fail."
The graduates join approximately 165,000 other alumni of the UMass Amherst campus who are located in all parts of the world, Scott pointed out.