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‘It’s symbolic:’ OSU-Cascades in Bend to graduate 355 students at Sunday’s commencement; Class of 2024 is third-largest

(Update: adding video, comment from student, director of communications)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- OSU Cascades is gearing up for commencement on Sunday. A total of 25 programs will be recognized -- four of them for the first time in school history.

Oregon State University–Cascades will graduate 355 students at its 23rd Commencement Ceremony on Sunday.

The 2024 commencement also includes the first students to graduate from the economics, engineering science and political science programs. Among these is the first-ever class of the Doctor of Physical Therapy program.

“It's symbolic in general, because accreditation is a big process to go through,” DPT student Amy Farley said Tuesday.

Students go through two years of classes and one year of clinical experience.

“I think the DPT program here is just bringing one more accessible graduate program, and then also having the ability to train PTs to be able to go into rural communities," Farley said.

Farley says the program is addressing a critical shortage in rural areas including Central Oregon.

"Overall, I think it helps to create overall well-rounded clinicians as PT students here at Oregon State," she added.

The OSU-Cascades graduating class of 2024 includes 355 students, 270 of whom are expected at the Sunday ceremony. The school says 80% of this year's graduates are from Oregon, with 48% from Central Oregon. OSU Cascades' 2024 graduates represent 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties.

"OSU-Cascades was founded to serve the needs of Central Oregon and the state," Director of Communications Christine Coffin said. "So we really work within Central Oregon and around the state to recruit students. They then graduate and contribute to the state workforce.” 

The school says 267 of the graduates will receive bachelor’s degrees, 44, earned master's degrees, and 44 doctoral degrees,

"OSU Cascades was founded in 2001, and as you can imagine the graduating classes were really quite small," Coffin said. "So over the years, they've grown and grown, and the Class of 2024 is actually the third-largest graduating class."

Between the graduates, their family and friends, more than 3,000 people are expected at the 10 a.m. ceremony Sunday. Gates will open at 9 a.m. and tickets are required. 

More than 270 students are expected to participate in the ceremony, which will take place at 10 a.m., rain or shine, on the oval green on the OSU-Cascades campus. More than 2,700 family and friends are anticipated. Gates will open at 9 a.m. Tickets are required, and attendees must follow OSU’s clear bag policy.

The 355 graduates will receive 359 degrees, including four students who will receive two degrees.

The commencement address will be given by Kimberly Howard Wade, an arts advocate and executive director of Caldera Arts.

“This graduating class demonstrates how OSU-Cascades is contributing to the workforce in Central Oregon and beyond, including providing 44 new physical therapists ready to support community health and quality of life,” said Sherm Bloomer, chancellor and dean of OSU-Cascades. “It’s also a testament to the academic faculty who have taught and inspired students; and family and friends who have supported them.”

More than a third of the graduating DPT class identify as students of color and more than 40% report having jobs or job offers.

Bloomer will preside over the ceremony and OSU Provost Ed Feser will confer degrees to students.

Bloomer will present OSU-Cascades’ Distinguished Service Award to Dana Whitelaw, executive director of the High Desert Museum. The award honors individuals, businesses or organizations who have made exceptional contributions to OSU-Cascades, Central Oregon, Oregon or the world.

Some additional facts and figures about the OSU-Cascades’ class of 2024:

  • Of the 359 degrees awarded, 267 will go to students receiving bachelor’s degrees; 44, master’s degrees; and 44, doctoral degrees.
  • Degrees will be awarded in 25 academic programs.
  • Three students will receive an OSU Honors degree, which requires completion of advanced classes and a thesis.
  • One student has been inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest academic honor society in the nation.
  • 80% of the graduates are from Oregon, with 48% from Central Oregon.
  • OSU-Cascades’ 2024 graduates represent 23 of Oregon’s 36 counties.
  • Graduates represent 17 other U.S. states and four countries.
  • 25% of graduates identify as students of color.
  • The graduating class includes 62 students who are first in their family to earn a college degree.
  • Seventeen graduates are active-duty military personnel or veterans of the national armed forces.
  • The average age of the graduating class is 27; the oldest is 68 and the youngest is 19.

Including this class, OSU-Cascades will have awarded 5,635 undergraduate and graduate degrees since it was established in 2001.

Article Topic Follows: Education

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Matthew Draxton

Matthew Draxton is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Matthew here.


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