The University of Arizona conferred degrees upon its spring graduates on Saturday. President Robert N. Shelton welcomed the graduates, their friends and family members and praised the students for obtaining a UA degree.
The ceremony celebrated achievement with a theme that hailed exploratory vision. Keynote speaker Frank Borman, commander of Apollo 8, the first spacecraft to circle the moon, spoke of the early days of space exploration and the hope it instilled on society.
He praised the UA and its ascendancy toward becoming one of America’s 10 best public research universities, and for becoming the first public university to lead a mission to Mars.
Borman spoke of the risks, sacrifice and integrity that such missions require and told the students they were fortunate to be a part of a university that has the capacity to operate such a mission.
Phoenix, a mission led for NASA by the UA, is preparing to end its long journey and begin a three-month mission to explore Martian soil and buried ice. The lander is scheduled to touch down on the Red Planet May 25.
The mission is led by Peter Smith of the UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. During Saturday’s ceremony, Smith was presented with the Alumni Achievement Award by Chris Vlahos, president of the UA Alumni Association.
The UA’s 138th commencement ended with the students’ final rite of passage as they moved their tassels from the right to the left side of their mortarboards and sang the UA Alma Mater.