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Summer commencement marks firsts for McNair, online programs

July 30, 2018

Contact: Michael Tullier, APR, Office of Communications, Public Relations and Marketing

Dr. Lily McNair presents degree to a female graduateTuskegee University’s summer graduation ceremony on July 27 may have been the final act for the class of 2018 graduates, but the occasion also marked a pair of firsts for the university.

The most obvious of these firsts was that the ceremony was presided over by a new president — Dr. Lily D. McNair, Tuskegee’s eighth president, who began her tenure on July 1.

“The Tuskegee experience I’ve heard so much about is certainly growing on me,” she said to graduates, family and alumni in attendance.

Following the ceremony, McNair reflected on the entire commencement experience.

“I am very inspired by our graduates who represent future leaders, innovators and problem-solvers who are so vital to the world today,” McNair said. “Each one of them will make a mark in our society and represent the best of the Tuskegee community.”

During the ceremony, the university conferred 94 degrees: 52 undergraduate degrees, 41 master’s degrees and one doctoral degree. Among the graduates were the university’s first cohort of distance learning students. Both Kalauna Carter of Vancouver, Washington, and Carl Morgan of Los Angeles, earned online master’s degrees from the College of Agriculture, Environment and Nutrition Sciences.

“Earning my degree via distance was very advantageous to me, and I am so thankful I had the opportunity,” said Carter, whose degree is in environmental management. “It allowed me to continue working full time with the Natural Resource Conservation Service and also operate a business full time. I don’t think if I were on a campus I would have been able to maintain all three and still have balance.”

Morgan, an environmental sciences graduate, agreed with the flexibility of pursuing an online degree.

“One of the most attractive parts to the program is the ability to work at your own pace, the relationships with students and professors that flourish through discussion board interactions,” he said. “Staying focused and developing proper time-management are key….[Online study] forces you to  become self-motivated — as long as you’re focused and have a sense of determination, you should have no problem completing the program.”

As the featured commencement speaker, Tuskegee Mayor Lawrence “Tony” Haygood challenged graduates to remain active and vocal throughout their adult lives.

“Have the courage to speak up and speak out,” Haygood said. “We must value trust, honesty, integrity and gratitude.”

Haygood, whose professional background is in workforce and economic development, also reminded graduates of the tremendous potential their Tuskegee degrees hold for them as they begin their careers.

“With your degrees, knowledge and willingness to adapt to the demands of the workforce, there are tremendous opportunities for you,” he emphasized.

A full recording of the university’s Summer Commencement Exercises is available online at

© 2018, Tuskegee University