More than 4,600 Kansas University graduates were ushered into a challenging new world order with instructions to lead and make a difference.
Chancellor Gene Budig brought the crowd in Memorial Stadium to its feet Sunday by conferring degrees upon graduates participating in KU's 120th commencement.
"We are proud of you and your accomplishments," he said. "You are ready to lead, to make a difference."
The Class of 1992 had 5,300 bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree recipients. The total included 1,995 who finished degrees last summer and fall.
Members of the class filed through the Memorial Campanile, made the triumphant march down Mount Oread and took seats in the stadium as the University Commencement Band charged through "Grand Commencement March."
GRADUATES were greeted by 40,000 family and friends, KU officials estimated. That's at least 5,000 more than attended last year's ceremony.
The weather was cloudy, but there was no rain to ruin the annual festivity.
During his commencement speech, Budig told graduates that the stimulating new world order demands early economic revitalization and lasting social justice.
"It demands a new generation of men and women of high ideals and innovative spirit," he said. "You have learned much in what now seems a short period of time. And you are prepared to contribute to the new world order."
Jack Sampson, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, told graduates it was important for them to support Kansas public higher education.
"Support all six universities," he said. "We must work for more funding for our universities, to keep this university dominant in the Big Eight."
Sampson drew his strongest response when he spoke of Hoch Auditorium, a KU landmark destroyed by fire in June. It will be rebuilt with $18 million from the state.
"WE'RE SO thrilled to get that money," Sampson said.
Glee Smith, president of the KU Alumni Association, urged graduates to be ambassadors for the university and participate in the association.
"Starting right now you're taking your place as an important link between your university and the world at large," Smith said.
He also praised the tenacity of Althea Vratil, Larned, who graduated Sunday with a degree in sociology. She left KU in the 1940s just 15 hours shy of graduating.
Del Shankel, KU executive vice chancellor, told seniors Sunday morning that the Class of 1992 helped make KU a better university.
"The university, I would suggest, is a more caring, compassionate, understanding place than when you came," he said.
Shankel said students pushed the university to confront complex social issues, including sexual harassment, homophobia, child care and obstacles facing people with physical disabilities.
He said '92 graduates experienced the best of times and the worst of times at KU.
"The nights the Jayhawks lost and the days the regents raise tuition will certainly be among the worst," he said. "We hope the best of times will dominate your memories."
Shankel said the best would include new friendships among students, co-workers, faculty and staff.
"Those influences will be with you the rest of your lives," he said.