As in past years, there were two ceremonies –10 a.m. and 2 p.m. – to allow time for each graduate to cross the stage. Some graduates made the most of those seconds in the limelight by pumping fists into the air, dancing or blowing kisses to loved ones, even taking selfies with UofL President James Ramsey.
Bryce Wooley, who participated in the 2 p.m. ceremony, was one of those happy graduates.
He earned a degree in sport administration from the College of Education and Human Development and was a familiar face on the Belknap Campus where he was often seen going to classes in a power wheelchair.
A New Albany, Ind., native who lived on campus all four years, Wooley called his graduation day “bittersweet.”
“It feels very special to me because I have been breaking down barriers my whole entire life and receiving my degree is the culmination of my success in overcoming adversity,” said Wooley, who is in a wheelchair due to complications from cerebral palsy. “I deeply care about the relationships with my friends and colleagues so much that it is bittersweet that I will not get to see some of them anymore after graduation.”
Ramsey presided at both ceremonies and recalled recent university highlights such as higher graduation rates, an increase in doctoral degrees, the surpassing of a major fundraising milestone and campus improvements.
“We know—let me repeat, we know—that the great things that have happened at the University of Louisville have happened because of you,” Ramsey told the graduates.
UofL physics professor David Brown was honored at the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony with the 2014 Trustees Award. The prize is the highest honor given by the trustees. It recognizes outstanding contributions to the student experience and carries with it recognition on a plaque in the Swain Student Activities Center and a $5,000 prize.
Dentistry graduate Michael Rolf was the student speaker at the morning ceremony.
At the 2 p.m. ceremony, university administrators bestowed an honorary degree on entrepreneur Sam Swope, who founded several auto dealerships in Kentucky and has been a long-time UofL supporter.
Carrie Mattingly, who majored in economics and political science, was the student speaker for the afternoon event.
In addition to the 1,700 who took part in commencement, another 1,200 completed requirements and earned a degree during the spring 2014 semester.