The 123rd commencement at KU is history. Under a simmering sun, 4,600 students marched down Campanile Hill to become Jayhawk alumni.
Commencement exercises Sunday at Kansas University differed from any that Chancellor Del Shankel witnessed in 36 years on Mount Oread.
About 4,600 students made the traditional pilgrimage down Campanile Hill in black cap and gown. Parents and friends, some weeping with joy, lined the procession as they have for years.
As usual, graduates carried flags, signs, balloons and banners into Memorial Stadium. Students oozing with pride and satisfaction raced on the stadium track and boogied on the Jayhawk painted on football field.
However, the 123rd commencement was unique for Shankel. For the first and only time in his career, he held power to confer degrees on graduates attending the festivity.
"In a sense, you will be my graduating class," Shankel said. "I have not seen this many happy people in one place since we won the national basketball championship in 1988."
The Class of 1995 totaled about 5,650. That included 2,144 who earned degrees last summer and fall and about 3,500 who finished school this month.
Among them was Gabrielle Favreau of Hutchinson. She beat the odds to claim a liberal arts degree.
"I have a son who is 22 months old. I took a year off of school, came back and finished my degree," Favreau said.
It was fitting she graduated on Mother's Day. Her mom, third-grade teacher Marcia Truitt of Hutchinson, saved $75 a month for 16 years to help finance Favreau's college education.
"Because of the life decisions I made, she was worried I wouldn't go back to school," Favreau said.
About the time Frank Sabatini, chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, was urging graduates to accept more responsibility, three delinquents outside the stadium expressed their desire to be irresponsible.
KU police officer Cindy Alliss said three Lawrence men were nabbed for firing water balloons from a high-powered launcher at people in the stadium's east parking lot.
For some graduates, simply walking down the hill was thrill enough.
David Donze, an English graduate from St. Louis, slipped out of line just as the throng of graduates entered a stadium gate.
"Well, it is a boring ceremony. That's not the main reason I did it," Donze said. "I did it out of consideration for my grandparents, who aren't in the best of health. They watched me walk down the hill. This way we can escape the rush afterward."
- More on commencement, page 8B.