(Portland, Ore.) June 13, 2010 -- Portland State University honored its largest graduating class ever in its most sustainable commencement ceremony yet today at the Rose Garden Arena.
PSU awarded 5,135 degrees to the Class of 2010, including 3,525 bachelor's degrees, 1,560 master's degrees and 50 doctoral degrees. The undergraduate graduating class has doubled since 1993-94, when 1,750 bachelor's degrees were awarded.
Portland State incorporated an array of green strategies this year to reduce the environmental impact of the ceremony, such as using biodegradable regalia made from natural wood fiber sourced from renewable-managed forest, programs printed on 100 percent recycled paper and seasonal flowers from local growers. All communication with students about commencement was done by e-mail instead of paper, and students and guests were encouraged to walk, bike or take public transportation to the ceremony.
Green pins were given to graduates who signed a pledge saying, "I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work."
Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund and a lifelong advocate for disadvantaged families, delivered the commencement address and received an honorary degree.
"The test of the morality of a society is how it treats its children," Edelman told the graduates and the packed crowd at the Rose Garden. She cited dozens of statistics detailing the violence, poverty and school failure that plague millions of children in the United States.
"A black boy born in 2001 has a one in three chance of going to prison in his lifetime," said Edelman, who was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi.
"I'm deeply concerned that incarceration is becoming America's apartheid," she said. "We are spending three times more to send somebody to prison than to school. I can't think of a dumber policy."
She urged graduates to enter careers as teachers and educators and "to leave our world a better and safer place than where you found it."
Two honored graduates also spoke at the ceremony: Christian Aniciete and Kimberley Mansfield. Aniciete is a student leader who immigrated to Hillsboro with his family from the Philippines at age 10. Mansfield enrolled in PSU at age 41 after an eclectic background as a professional equestrian, actress and bartender.
The top five undergraduate majors were social science and general studies, psychology, liberal studies, health studies and criminology and criminal justice. The most popular master's program was education, and the most doctorates were awarded in education administration.
About 80 percent of the graduates are Oregon residents. Women represent 59 percent of this year's grads. International graduates came from more than 50 countries to study at PSU. Outside the United States, the countries with the most PSU graduates are India, China and Thailand.
About Portland State University
Portland State University (PSU) serves as a center of opportunity for over 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Located in Portland, Oregon, one of the nation's most livable cities, the University's innovative approach to education combines academic rigor in the classroom with field-based experiences through internships and classroom projects with community partners. The University's 49-acre downtown campus exhibits Portland State's commitment to sustainability with green buildings, while many of the 125 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees incorporate sustainability into the curriculum. PSU's motto, "Let Knowledge Serve the City," inspires the teaching and research of an accomplished faculty whose work and students span the globe.
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