Shining the light on 2011 Northern graduates
Montana State University-Northern administrators, with a few special guests, honored all of the schools' latest graduates, and some of the older ones, at Saturday's graduation ceremony.
The gymnasium floor was packed with this year's 301 graduates and a dozen or two of Northern's golden graduates from the classes of 1951 and 1961.
Friends, family and supporters of the graduates filled the bleachers on either side.
And the stage held this year's commencement speaker, billionaire entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner, surrounded by Chancellor Frank Trocki, Dean of College of Technical Sciences Greg Kegel, Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns, Provost Rosalyn Templeton, Stone Child College Instructor Robert Murie and Northern Education Professor Curtis Smeby.
Trocki began his comments by congratulating all of this year's degree recipients, 138 associates, 151 bachelor's and 29 master's.
He then introduced and congratulated those who had graduated 50 and 60 years ago and were attending the ceremony, saying that they are a reminder that education does not stop at graduation but goes on, through experience, for life.
These classes were presented honorary degrees for this additional "experiential" education they had received.
Ted Turner's commencement speech that followed took place at the front of the stage where he was joined in a couple of armchairs by Shannon Newth, KRTV and KXLH anchor and reporter and former Havre resident.
Newth then asked Turner about his life and career, and what he had learned or would want to impart on these new graduates.
Turner told the graduates that they don't need to have his fortune to do their part to help improve the world.
"You don't have to have a lot of money to make a contribution, " Turner said. "There's so much you can do without any money at all. "
One example, Turner said, is that when he walks places he always makes an effort to pick up litter and it irks him when he can't find a trash can.
He continued sharing his passion in environmental matters and how important he feels the issue of global climate change really is.
"This generation faces the greatest challenges the world has ever faced, " Turner said.
"It will be a catastrophe if we don't deal with it and our country has chosen not to deal with it. "
Following his speech, Trocki and Stearns presented Turner with an honorary Doctorate of Human Letters.
Trocki said the degree was being presented "for his innovative spirit, his views on human society and most importantly his love of Montana. "
He added that this is Turner's 46th honorary degree and that wouldn't happen if Turner didn't deserve them.
After Turner received his degree, the rest of the graduates came individually on stage to be presented with theirs.
Murie closed the ceremony with a Native American prayer, that Trocki said Turner really appreciated.
Trocki, this morning, expressed his amazement at how smoothly the entire day came together. "I can't get over how well it went, " Trocki said. "I have to take my hat off to all of our staff that helped make this happen. "