Lee T. Todd Jr. delivered his final commencement address —three of them, in fact — as president of the University of Kentucky on Sunday, as UK granted degrees to more than 4,100 graduates.
UK had three graduation ceremonies, and Todd spoke at all of them.
He told the graduates at the last of the ceremonies to choose challenge over comfort. "There is a world out there waiting for you to excel, and it needs you to excel," he said.
It will not necessarily be an easy road, Todd said, "but most things worth doing aren't. They are difficult. They challenge us."
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When students rise and meet those challenges, "Your capabilities are far beyond what you could originally fathom," he said.
Traditionally at UK, the president gives the commencement address at the end of his first and his last years in office. Todd retires from the presidency July 1, when he will be succeeded by Eli Capilouto from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Todd called this year's commencement a bittersweet experience because it was his last as president. He said it was difficult to describe "how blessed it has been to serve this institution.''
This year there were changes in the 144th commencement ceremonies. Instead of having one large ceremony and separate college ceremonies, there were three ceremonies in Rupp Arena — one for graduate and professional students and two for undergraduate colleges.
The first ceremony of the day, at 9 a.m., honored the graduate and professional students. Honorary degrees were bestowed during that ceremony.
Honored with degrees
The University of Kentucky awarded honorary degrees to:
Al Smith, Kentucky journalist and former host of KET's Comment on Kentucky, doctor of letters
T. Pearse Lyons, founder of Alltech, doctor of letters
Barbara Hogan, South African activist, doctor of letters
Ahmed Kathrada, South African activist, doctor of letters
Robert M. Drake Jr., businessman, doctor of science