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By George Lewis

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"You are prepared to make a real difference in lives no matter where you choose to go.  But I encourage you to make your life here in Kentucky."

-Charles T. Wethington Jr.,
University of Kentucky

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May 6, 2001 – (Lexington, Ky.) – Charles T. Wethington Jr., in his final public address to students as University of Kentucky president, today urged a new crop of UK graduates to stay in Kentucky.

“You are prepared to make a real difference in lives no matter where you choose to go. But I encourage you to make your life here in Kentucky,” Wethington told students and their families and friends who attended UK’s 134th commencement at Memorial Coliseum. “This state has an abundance of opportunity for anyone with vision, ambition and perseverance.”

During his presidency, Wethington has awarded 61,163 degrees, which is nearly 32 percent of all degrees awarded at UK since its founding in 1865.

Audio and video of the president’s commencement address is available at this link.

Wethington steps aside in June after 11 years as UK president and nearly 40 years of service to UK. He will be succeeded by Lee Todd, a UK graduate and entrepreneur.

“Today represents an ending and a wonderful new beginning,” Wethington told the graduates. “The joy of obtaining your dreams will often be found in the pursuit of those dreams.”

Today, UK granted degrees to 5,813 candidates, including December 2000 and August 2000 graduates. May 2001 graduation candidates included 2,203 bachelor’s degrees, 783 graduate degrees, 355 professional degrees and 342 associate degrees.

Wethington presented honorary doctoral degrees to Peter P. Bosomworth, retired chancellor of the Albert B. Chandler Medical Center; Linda Challis Gill, a benefactor of UK's Linda and Jack Gill Heart Institute; and Frank X Walker, a catalyst for many cultural and arts initiatives in the Lexington area.

John F. Wilson, professor of behavioral science, received the William B. Sturgill Award, presented annually to an outstanding member of the graduate faculty.

Don M. Gash, professor of anatomy and neurobiology, received the Albert D. and Elizabeth Kirwan Memorial Prize for original and creative research.

Christi Shawn Stafford, an agriculture education senior from Wilmore, spoke on behalf of the class of 2001.

Three members of the University of Kentucky family were cited for their selflessness. Clayton Thomas Dunn, Patrick P. DeLuca and Kristina Marie Talbert-Slagle received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Medallions, which are awarded each year to a male graduate, a female graduate and a non-student who have shown a spirit of helpfulness to others.

Graduating political science student Dunn performed an extensive oral history on Lexington's Lyric Theater, which served as the heart of African-American life in the city for two decades before the end of segregation.  Dunn's work greatly fleshed out the available information about the Lyric and may have broad implications for efforts to restore the theater.

DeLuca, a faculty member of the UK College of Pharmacy and the non-student recipient, has shown compassion by volunteering at the Faith Pharmacy, which provides free medications to the impoverished. He traveled to Ghana last year to help a small church evolve and to start a baseball team for children of the church.

Talbert-Slagle, a graduating student of agriculture biotechnology and Russian, exhibited helpfulness to others by co-founding the Community Bookshelf, an organization dedicated to collecting and distributing children’s books for charities, and promoting children’s literacy. She was a finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship.

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