Baldwin Friends and family of 178 Baker University graduates attended the college's winter commencement Sunday despite the lure of Super Bowl pregame shows on television.
In fact, the crowd filled Rice Auditorium's 900 seats for the first midterm commencement celebrated by the 133-year-old university.
U.S. Rep. John J. Rhodes III, R-Ariz., addressed the crowd with lighthearted jabs at the Super Bowl and at lengthy commencement speeches. Though tempted to launch into a detailed philosophical discourse, he said, he instead chose to keep his message brief.
"MOST PEOPLE go through life either optimistic or pessimistic," said Rhodes, citing the metaphor of a half-full or half-empty glass. "My judgment is if you approach life's opportunities from the perspective that the glass is half full, you have created an opportunity for a creative and productive life."
He urged Baker's graduating class to take an active role in the betterment of the world.
"Look upon the world as an opportunity, not as a problem," he said. "It's far better to wonder how to fill up the glass rather than wonder how long it will last."
Rhodes congratulated the graduates and their families, and wrapped up his speech with "Go 'Skins."
RHODES' MOTHER, Elizabeth Harvey Rhodes, graduated from Baker in 1941, and the Elizabeth Harvey Rhodes Chair in International Business was established at the university in 1989. She was on hand for the commencement ceremony.
Chris Kuehl, who holds the international business chair, presented the congressman an honorary doctor of laws degree. Rhodes was the third member of his family to receive an honorary degree from Baker. Both his mother and his father, John J. Rhodes Jr., have been honored by the university in the past.
Also at the commencement, Baker awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree to Daniel J. Bradbury, director of the Kansas City Public Library in Kansas City, Mo. Kay Brandt, associate director of libraries at Baker, said Bradbury was instrumental in developing a state-of-the-art network between the Kansas City library and libraries at nine northeast Kansas colleges and universities.
GRADUATES were called up on stage individually to receive their degrees. Among the recipients were 22 Taiwanese businessmen and women who participated in Baker's master of science in management executive program. Baker professors taught the classes both in Baldwin and in China.
The Caledonian Pipe Band of Kansas City provided bagpipe music for the processional at the commencement, and the Baker University Ensemble performed the Baker alma mater and recessional music.