by Brendan Mathews
In his commencement address to the Class of 2006 on May 21, Gov. Tim Kaine admitted that he couldn’t remember any of the graduation speeches he had witnessed. “I was the speaker at one of my graduations — my high school graduation,”he confessed. “And I can’t even remember what I said.”
Instead, Kaine pointed to the small moments that he still carries with him from those days — the snapshots that seem to capture something larger than the moments themselves: a longremembered hug from the girlfriend who dumped him before senior prom, the unabashed hug that one of his friends gave to his parents after the ceremony.
at Final Exercises saw plenty of snapshots being taken:
both the kind taken with a camera,
and the kind that flash suddenly
into the mind. Long after the
words spoken from the podium
fade from memory, both kinds of
snapshots will remain, reminding
graduates, family members,
friends and others of the Class of
2006’s last day on Grounds.
What follows are a selection of
these snapshots from Finals Weekend;
moments that will live in
• Two graduates, their mortarboards adorned with colored tape proclaiming them“ Triple ’Hoos” and listing the dates of their bachelor’s, master’s and finally, Ph.D’s. “We’ve been here a long time,” said one, as they raced toward the Lawn.
• A parent asked an Information Booth attendant, “How much are the programs?” The answer: “If you’ve got a graduate in there, you’ve already paid for it.”
• A family of five crossed McCormick Road near the West Range, each wearing a brilliantly colored robe — the traditional attire of the Yoruba of Nigeria.
Closer to the chapel, a father, a graduate and two teenage sons walked together along the red brick sidewalk, each wearing khaki pants, navy blazers and colorful bow ties — the traditional attire of the Virginia gentlemen.
•A graduate, his black robe flapping slightly in the breeze, black hair welling out around the sides of his cap, stopped at an information booth, fresh from walking the Lawn.“ I have a question for you,” he said to the attendant. “Where do I get a job?”
“You must be an English major,” the attendant said.
The graduate nodded. “I can write brochures for you,” he said.
Items reported missing
“I was leading the way and then I turned around and four were gone,” said the young man who came to the chapel information booth seeking help locating his wayward family members.
• Army National Guardsman Michael Egan walked the Lawn — two years after he had planned on graduating. Egan shipped out to Iraq in March 2004— two months before he was scheduled to graduate from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences — and served until February 2005, during which time his company was the target of the December 2004 “chow hall” bombing. Egan completed his double major in electrical and aerospace engineering in December, and now works for a satellite manufacturer in northern Virginia.
• The University’s “V” decals, handed out by the hundreds at the information booths, were a hit among the under-14 set as well as those old enough to drive. “Hey, Mom! I’ve got a sticker,” said one boy. “Can I get a car now?”
• Rector of the Board of Visitors Thomas F. Farrell II received a raucous response during his introduction of Gov. Kaine. When he said that Kaine had long advocated “higher teacher pay,” graduates of the Curry School of Education exploded in cheers. When Farrell later observed that one of the governor’s “endearing eccentricities” was his support for Virginia Tech’s football team, the graduates were united in boos and hisses.
• As President Casteen awarded degrees to the graduates of the School of Medicine, the graduating class from the School of Nursing rose and gave the green-and-black robed M.D.s a boisterous standing ovation. The doctors returned the compliment later in the ceremony when bachelor’s and master’s degrees were awarded to the nurses.
• If there had been an applause-meter on the Lawn, the winners would have been:
• The McIntire School of Commerce grads, famous for the volume and duration of their cheers
• Recipients of bachelor’s degrees from the College of Arts& Sciences, who proved that there is strength in numbers
• President Casteen’s mention of 16-year-old master’s degree recipient Greg Smith, whose age first drew a gasp, then loud applause from the graduates.
• There were many fine words spoken from the podium during Finals: Tom Wolfe’s Valedictory remark, on May 20, that now was the “perfect time to make a huge difference in such a confused and, I would say, chaotic universe”; Gov. Kaine’s charge to embrace “the simple and enduring beauty of adventure, discovery and surprise”; President Casteen’s recognition of the diversity of talents and activities that marked the Class of 2006. These words may live in memory, but the one unforgettable sight from Finals may be the joyful riot of colors on a brilliant Sunday morning: a dazzling blue sky over the Lawn; the gleam of balloons — whether seahorses, margarita glasses, pink flamingos or Clifford the Big Red Dog; the greens, reds and yellows of the kente cloth stoles that adorned the robes of African-American graduates; and tassels, hoods and regalia in every shade, representing the rainbow of academic disciplines and scholarly pursuits that have inspired the Class of 2006.
Charlotte Crystal,Brevy Cannon and Matt Kelly contributed to this report.
Lifelong Learning: U.Va. Pays the Way
For hundreds of U.Va. employees who have pursued academic degrees while working full-time, graduation marks a major step forward– and perhaps a little more free time in the months ahead.
University offers a variety of ways for faculty and staff to
continue their education, chief
among them the Tuition Waiver
and Tuition Reimbursement and
Assitance programs.The Tuition
Waiver program allows eligible
employees to enroll in one U.Va.
course per semester free of
charge, and the course does
not have to be job-related.
Under the Tuition Reimbursement/Assistance program, departments reimburse eligible employees for job-related education and training, either after the course is completed (reimbursement) or before (assistance). Employees can take up to 11 undergraduate or eight graduate credits per semester, at either U.Va. or another accredited institution. Medical Center employees use a different program.
2005, 199 classified staff, 74 faculty and 164 Medical
Center employees benefited
from the Tuition Waiver program, while 378 classified staff and
fact that U.Va. pays for its employees to take classes to
better themselves is a testimony
to the commitment that the
University has to the community
and its employees,” said
Michael Payne, a Facilites Management
More information about employee educational benefits is available at: www.hrs.virginia.edu/educben
Finals By the Numbers
Prior to Finals, approximately
40 full-time Facilities
worked around the Grounds to
ensure that the Lawn and other
Chairs: Approximately 45,000 chairs, at 50 sites, including 20,000 on the Lawn, were set up for Finals Weekend.
Workers installed 12
stages of various sizes around
Grounds and furnished them
with podiums, tables, stairs,
ramps or lifts, skirting, rails and
Food: At food stands around Grounds, U.Va. Catering planned to serve
• 17,000 petite gourmet
and Video: Sound systems were provided for more
than 30 U.Va. venues, and for
this first time, Finals was broadcast
live to two massive screens
on the Lawn, to allow parents
and other guests a better view
facts and figures are available
2006 by the Rector and Visitors