News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 31, 2014

Rose-Hulman presents 469 degrees to grads in ceremony

TERRE HAUTE — As Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology graduating seniors took their final, sentimental walk through campus, Carole Havens stood on the sidelines waiting for her son to walk by.

She and many other parents, friends and family of graduates, lined the procession route — iPhones, iPads and cameras in hand — preparing to take video and photos to mark the momentous occasion, Rose-Hulman’s 136th commencement.

Havens, of Granger, Ind., said she was very excited to see her son, Travis Baumbaugh complete his Rose-Hulman education. “He did a great job. He got himself scholarships and he’s worked hard,” she said.

Baumbaugh is a double major in mathematics and computer science and has been accepted into the doctoral program in theoretical math at Clemson University; he eventually wants to be a math professor.

The educational program at Rose-Hulman has been demanding, but faculty and staff are very supportive of students, Havens said.  

  Marie Stettler, president of the senior class, led the procession of students through the scenic campus under sunny skies. “It feels really great. We made it,” she said. She later spoke during the commencement ceremony.

As the procession got under way, faculty lined the route and clapped as students walked by. Further on, housekeeping staff also showed their approval and presented a sign that read, “Congratulations, Class of 2014.”

Eventually, the procession was lead by the Rose-Hulman Joint Service ROTC Color Guard and the Indianapolis Emerald Society Firefighter Bagpipers.

The college presented 469 bachelor’s and master’s degrees during the ceremony in the Sports and Recreation Center.

Four years of hard work is paying off for graduates. The Class of 2014 has a 91 percent placement rate (accepting full-time employment, planning to attend graduate school or will begin military commissions from Army/Air Force ROTC programs). The placement rate is expected to be 99 percent by Nov. 1.

Average starting salary for the Class of 2014 is $67,957, an increase from last year’s $63,075 final average. Graduates have been in popular demand by the nation’s top STEM companies.

Seven students finished with a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and earned the college’s Heminway Gold Medal, given to students with the highest overall grade-point average.

Receiving honorary doctor of engineering degrees were Greggory A. Lowe, president and chief executive officer of Freescale Semiconductor, as well as U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Both are Rose-Hulman graduates and Lowe served as commencement speaker.

Rose-Hulman President Jim Conwell, who has completed his first academic year at the college, told students their accomplishments “have been remarkable.”

But what astounds him even more, he said,  “is my realization that this experience was just an opening act for you.”

The graduates have earned awards and helped bring real-world, and sometimes lifesaving, innovations to market. “The greatness that is within you has left its mark in many places, and you’ve only just begun a path to a rewarding future,” he said.

Conwell told graduates they have a duty to continue to use their gifts to make the world a better place. The problems that humanity faces are ever-more complex, and finding solutions will be critical.

“The knowledge and abilities you have developed here belong to you, but the world will be a much more wonderful place if you share them generously,” Conwell said.

Lowe, in his commencement address, looked to the “four greatest philosophers of all time” to draw from their wisdom — John, Paul, George and Ringo — The Beatles.

“You graduates know who the Beatles are, right? They were a band … Ask your parents about them,” he said.

The Beatles said the key to life was to focus and also that “all you need is love.” But they also sang about the need for money, because lovin’ won’t pay the bills. He drew on those ideas as part of his speech.

He told students, “You are some of the most prepared young adults on the planet” to handle the challenges the world faces.

“As you pursue your dreams, have a clear focus on innovation, while remembering the goal of innovation is to make something that people are willing to pay for,” he said. Lowe told graduates to pursue their ideas with vigor and conviction, but to listen carefully to naysayers and objectively consider their concerns.

“Passionately drive for your goals,” but he told them they should have the courage to admit they were wrong if the facts line up that way.

And, he told them, “Have fun.”

Lowe, a 1984 Rose-Hulman electrical engineering alumnus, was recognized as one of the top 100 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics leaders during U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 STEM Solutions Summit.

Prior to the start of the ceremony, a proud aunt waited on the sidelines inside the fieldhouse as her nephew, Michael Petty of Indianapolis, prepared to walk down the center aisle to take his seat.

“Pardon me when I scream,” she said to someone nearby.

Other family members and friends eagerly searched for their own graduates, as graduates, in turn, searched for their loved ones.

During the program, President Conwell asked parents, stepparents, guardians and grandparents to stand and be recognized.  “There would not be a celebration or milestone without you,” he said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or


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