Graduation marked by celebration and commemoration

Monday, May 13, 2019

Thunderous ovations filled Halton Arena during Commencement, and while the tumult celebrated the academic achievements of the graduates, the loudest acclaim Saturday was reserved for the families of Reed Parlier and Riley Howell.

On May 11, the University awarded Degrees in Memoriam to the students whose lives were lost in the April 30 campus shooting. Parlier’s parents and sister accepted his in the morning, and in the afternoon, nearly two dozen members of Howell’s family attended. Emily Houpt, wounded in the attack, accepted a bachelor’s degree in international studies during the ceremonies for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.

Chancellor Philip L. Dubois thanked the members of the University community and the larger community for “their tremendous outpouring of support and affection for UNC Charlotte.”

One such demonstration, a gift of $1 million to fund scholarships in the names of Parlier and Howell, will “enable the spirit and legacy of each of these young men to be present always here on campus.” The donors, a couple who have supported schools and college for more than 50 years, elected to make the gift anonymously.

The University will consult with the Parlier and Howell families to establish the qualities or criteria reflective of their sons’ lives with regard to future students who receive these scholarships.

During the three spring Commencement exercises May 10-11, nearly 4,800 individuals were awarded bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degrees.

Tony Schmitz from the William States Lee College of Engineering was recognized formally as one of the recipients of the UNC Board of Governors Awards for Excellence in Teaching during the Saturday morning event.

The Office of University Communications provided web coverage of the ceremonies via live stream and Facebook. Nearly 65,000 individuals viewed one or more of the ceremonies. Approximately 80 percent of the viewers watched on a mobile device, and viewership spanned the globe, with individuals tuning in from 135 countries. The largest audiences outside the United States were in India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom.

On Thursday, May 9, the University held its annual Doctoral Hooding Ceremony, and the Alumni Association conducted three traditions as part of Commencement celebrations:  the 49er Ring, Donning of the Kente and Legacy Draping ceremonies.