Record graduating class receives degrees in Freedom Hall ceremony

May 11, 2019

MORE PHOTOS: Commencement | Doctoral Hooding ceremony | Baccalaureate Mass

At Bellarmine University’s largest-ever commencement ceremony — moved off-campus to Freedom Hall this year to accommodate the crowd — the university’s provost, Dr. Carole Pfeffer, offered graduates words of wisdom and advice to help carry them through life after college.
Bellarmine awarded 932 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in a Saturday ceremony that drew an estimated crowd of 10,000.
"I hope your time with us has helped you become better human beings," Pfeffer said in her commencement remarks. 
"I urge you and all of us to be intentional in attending to and basking in those moments that can truly overwhelm us with beauty, and awe, and joy, and gratitude," she said. "Moments that speak to those greater mysteries and meaning in our lives -- moments to fill our souls."
Pfeffer earned a bachelor's degree from Bellarmine in 1974 and spent the next 13 years teaching English at Louisville's Assumption High School. She holds advanced degrees from the University of Louisville and Spalding University.
She is retiring this month after 30 years at the university as an English professor, administrator and -- for the past five years -- provost. 
"Carole has been a tremendous help to me in my first years as president," remarked Bellarmine's president, Dr. Susan M. Donovan. "In fact, she postponed her planned retirement to help with the transition. I think that there are few people who spend the last day of their career delivering a commencement address to their alma mater. But then again, the mold was broken when Dr. Pfeffer became an educator!"
Donovan awarded Pfeffer an honorary doctoral degree during the ceremony.
After formally conferring degrees to the assembled graduates, Donovan told the newest members of Bellarmine's Alumni Association that the world needs them. "It needs your ability to question, to learn, and to act, and your commitment to treat each person as an individual worthy of respect," she said. "The task may seem daunting at times. But you take with you everything you need to be successful. You will carry the 'Bellarmine Difference' inside you, always."
Watch video of the full ceremony and see more coverage of commencement week festivities at
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Doctoral Hooding Ceremony
On Friday evening in Knights Hall, Bellarmine’s candidates for doctoral degrees were honored at a hooding ceremony, a campus tradition that started last year.
Theo Edmonds, a cultural innovator and healthcare professional, spoke during the ceremony. He is an assistant professor and director of the Center for Creative Placehealing at the University of Louisville who was called one of the "50 People Changing the Face of the South" by Southern Living Magazine in 2015.
He challenged the doctoral candidates to understand and embrace cultural inclusivity in the workplace. "We need your brains and we need your hearts," he said. "Will we work for a culture that excludes, or will we create one that is radically inclusive - a society whose culture says to its members, you are needed, you are valued - all of you - just as you are?"

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