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Pomp and circumstance: 1,400+ new Tiger stripes earned

Towson University has about 1,400 new alumni, one grad has a new fiance…and everyone has the power of the Force, it would seem.

With extra pomp and circumstance infused in this 150th anniversary year, students from all six academic colleges donned caps and gowns and received their degrees in Thursday and Friday commencement exercises at SECU Arena.

Business student at 2014 Winter Commencement

The occasions, overwhelmingly, mark the end of a rite of passage as well as academics. More than 1,200 of the grads claimed their bachelor’s degrees and ended their once-in-a-lifetime college experience. The university conferred master’s degrees to 211, and doctorates to nine.

In a personal message to each graduate, Interim President Timothy J. L. Chandler asked them to think about the past that has shaped them as they move forward with their lives, and called them to make a difference.

“What will you do to let it be known that you have passed this way?” he asked them.

Commencement ceremonies are weighty occasions, but there are moments of levity. The close of the Thursday afternoon ceremony for the College of Liberal Arts and the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics—perhaps predictably—came with a geek joke. Grand marshal, mathematics professor, and apparent Jedi master Lawrence Shirley stood proudly at the podium on stage in full academic regalia and declared to the graduates, “May the Force be with you!”

Cheers went up all around—even, presumably, from people who did not have tickets to see the new “Star Wars” movie.

At Friday’s ceremony for the College of Education and the College of Fine Arts and Communication, one graduate got a degree from the university and a diamond ring from her boyfriend. (She said yes.)

For every graduate, commencement is a singular experience. For those who have attended many Towson University commencements, the energy in SECU Arena is a welcome reminder of what it means to achieve here.

Anyone who has been to a TU commencement ceremony knows the special energy of the moment when, somehow, everyone in the audience gets to stand: graduates’ parents, grandparents, and siblings; military veterans; Towson alumni; friends. Suddenly it’s a universal ovation, and it’s difficult to know who’s celebrating whom.

We’re celebrating with you. Here’s to the class of 2015 – Tigers forever!