A press release from the University of Arkansas states
, "The Spring Commencement at the University of Arkansas will have the largest graduating class in school history." An estimated 2,700 students were scheduled to participate in eight spring graduation ceremonies.
The All-University Commencement, recognizing those who earned graduate degrees, was held in Bud Walton Arena
on May 12, and Bud Walton's niece, Alice, was among those receiving degrees. Ms. Walton, 62, received the Honorary Degree of Arts and Humane Letters, D.A.H. Walton joins a distinguished list of past UA honorary degree recipients including her father, Sam Moore Walton (1980), as well as Barbara Jordan (1986), President William Jefferson Clinton (1993), Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan (2001), Don Tyson (2010), and Tenzin Gyatso, His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, (2011).
When introducing Ms. Walton, UA Chancellor Dr. G. David Gearhart, spoke of her growing up in Bentonville, Arkansas "where her father operated the local five-and-ten store before starting his own company, Wal-Mart, in 1962." Gearhart recounted Walton's numerous accomplishments in business, but concluded by saying, "Walton's crowning achievement so far is creation of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
in Bentonville, which realizes Walton's dream of creating an enduring cultural gift for the people of her family's home region and state."
Members of the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees Jim von Gremp and John Tyson, son of honorary degree recipient Don Tyson, assisted with the hooding ceremony of Ms. Walton.
Walton said that she received her undergraduate degree from Trinity University
, but did not attend the graduation ceremonies. Instead, she went camping with her family on the Snake River. Walton said that she had a "grand old time," but, in fact, "This is my first graduation."
During her remarks, Walton referred to one of her favorite paintings at Crystal Bridges. It is a contemporary painting by female painter Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) entitled Untitled (1952-1953, Oil on canvas). She spoke of how something seemingly "discordant' actually brings things together in harmony. The painting was featured on the large screens in the arena.
The description of this piece of art at Crystal Bridges reads, in part: While Mitchell's art is abstract, it is never divorced from the natural world. A few years after completing this work, she explained, "I paint from remembered landscapes that I carry with me--and remembered feelings of them, which of course become transformed. I could certainly never mirror nature. I would like more to paint what it leaves me with."
At the conclusion of her remarks, Dr. Walton stepped to the side of the podium and led the assembled crowd in a Hog Call
. Woooooooo. Pig. Sooie! Razorbacks!
Dr. Walton then seemed to enjoy the remainder of the event, including the conferring of degrees where one was awarded to the oldest 2012 graduate
, Richard Murie, who is 88.