December Commencement 2006

Dec 9, 2006

The halls were decked with blue and gold for Kettering University Commencement exercises Saturday, Dec. 9.

The halls were decked with blue and gold for Kettering University Commencement exercises Saturday, Dec. 9. Graduates attending commencement included 175 undergraduates and 25 graduate candidates, of the almost 300 total graduates, marched while more than 1,800 family and friends looked on.


An honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree was awarded to L. Brooks Patterson. As the long serving executive of Oakland County, Patterson is an international ambassador for the developing talent and technologies of the 21st Century. During the 13 years of his administration, Oakland County government has earned respect from Wall Street for its solid tax base and sound financial policies by attaining and maintaining a coveted AAA bond rating, which only 34 of the nation's 3,200 counties have received. Some of the innovative programs he has helped launch include:

  • Automation Alley, southeast Michigan's premier high-tech consortium,
  • Emerging Sectors - an initiative focused on identifying the top 10 emerging and promising business sectors for the new economy,
  • Wireless Oakland - a program designed to blanket Oakland County with free wireless Internet access,
  • Count Your Steps - a pedometer walking program to target childhood obesity that involves providing pedometers to 30,000 third and fourth grade students in Oakland County's public, private and charter schools, and
  • The Rainbow Connection, which grants wishes to terminally ill children.


    Commencement speakers included Patterson and two undergraduate students, Jonathan Kowalski, of Commerce Township, Mich., a President's Medal winner, a Sobey Scholar and Leaders Fellow, who received a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, and Stacy Gardner, of Kansas City, Mo., also a President's Medalist and Leaders Fellow, who received a bachelor's degree in Computer Science.

    Gardner took the podium first and offered her fellow graduates an acronym for her advice to them as they move into the next phase of their lives. "PRIDE - passion, relationships, integrity, diversity and empathy," she said. She spoke of passion for the job which translates into a happier life and she exhorted her classmates to have empathy for others, citing her own life as an example. "I grew up in a single parent household," she told the assembly, "and received school lunch and Christmas presents from caring strangers. Sometimes what you give is not a hand out, but a hand up," she concluded.

    Kowalski's speech also focussed on what the assembled graduates had the power to accomplish. He cited some of the "bad news" in the headlines and told his classmates that this bad news "also represents an opportunity for us as Kettering grads," to use their education to solve the world's problems. "It's our time to make a difference," he said," our country needs us."

    Patterson took the podium after the student speakers and said he felt like Elizabeth Taylor's third husband, "how am I going to make this interesitng," he joked.


    Written by Dawn Hibbard and Patricia Mroczek