UC Merced Celebrates Inaugural Class


Commencement 2009

With a national audience watching and First Lady Michelle Obama as keynote speaker, UC Merced honored its inaugural class during the university’s fourth commencement ceremony on May 16.

"As the students who helped build this school, I ask you, make your legacy a lasting one," Mrs. Obama told the enthusiastic crowd of graduates. “You inspired me.”

In UC Merced’s largest commencement ever, Mrs. Obama spoke to about 12,000 people, which included students, family members, staff, dignitaries and members of the commmunity. Mrs. Obama’s speech, the first commencement address as First Lady of the United States, highlighted the historic ceremony, which aired live on the university’s Web site, public-access cable TV and on CNN. Big-screen televisions stationed throughout Merced allowed community members to watch the proceedings from various locations.

Chancellor Steve Kang said the graduation of the Class of 2009 is a tribute to the city and region that helped make the university’s development possible. During the ceremony, Kang awarded UC Merced’s distinguished Chancellor’s Medal to Mrs. Obama, UC Merced founding chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, U.S. Congressman Dennis Cardoza, loyal university supporters Bob and Marie Gallo and Yosemite National Park.

For those who want to relive the ceremony, a number of multimedia offerings are available online on UC Merced’s commencement site. The site includes links to the Webcast of the entire ceremony, a highlights video, a photo gallery, the university-issued press release and remarks from Mrs. Obama, Chancellor Kang, student speaker Jason Castillo and Tomlinson-Keasey (delivered by M.R.C. Greenwood).
[View photo gallery, video and speaker remarks]