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Spring commencement ceremonies to celebrate 989 graduates - Columbus State University Skip to Main Content

Spring commencement ceremonies to celebrate 989 graduates

May 7, 2024

Group of graduates standing in front of a blue backdrop

Six graduation-related ceremonies on May 9 and 10 will celebrate the 989 Columbus State University students comprising its Spring 2024 graduating class. The festivities will include three ceremonies throughout the day on Friday that mark the university’s 127th commencement exercises.

These events include the following:

Thursday, May 9
Friday, May 10

Headshot of Jake HarrisEach of Friday’s ceremonies will feature Jake Harris ’21 as the university’s commencement speaker. Harris completed his bachelor of business administration in marketing at Columbus State in 2021 and is nearing the end of consumer banking and commercial credit training at Synovus. As a young alumnus and professional, he will share with graduates the advice he wished he had known as he received as a newly minted college graduate.

Columbus State conducts commencement exercises and related events after each fall and spring semester. For more information, visit Since its founding as Columbus College in 1958, the university has bestowed degrees and certificates on more than 40,000 students. As alumni, they become automatic members of the CSU Alumni Association upon graduation.


All commencement events are open to the public and do not require tickets to attend. Graduates are not limited in the number of guests who can attend. Those who do attend are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the rules and regulations of the Lumpkin Center, including the university’s clear-bag and bag-check policies. Balloons are not allowed in the Lumpkin Center, and guests should refrain from bringing other items such as confetti, posters or signs, and noisemakers that would disrupt the ceremonies inside the facility.

Free parking for the ceremonies is available throughout Main Campus, with limited accessible parking located in the parking lots nearest to the Lumpkin Center. Parking attendants will direct guests to the available parking locations, and shuttles will also move through campus parking lots to assist any guests with limited mobility.

Additional information for graduates and guests attending these events is online at The website will also provide links to the livestreams of the May 9 Graduate Hooding Ceremony and each of the May 10 commencement ceremonies, and a PDF of the commencement program. The recorded live streams will be archived on the site for future viewing.


Ceremony Firsts/Lasts: This spring’s ceremonies will mark the first for Dr. Margie Yates as dean of the College of Education & Health Professions. She was appointed dean in January 2024. It will be the last for Dr. Pat McHenry, who has served as interim provost and executive vice president since April 2022. He will retire on June 30 after a Columbus State career spanning nearly 30 years.

Distribution of Graduates by College: This spring’s 989 graduates include 153 students representing the College of the Arts; 199 from the D. Abbott Turner College of Business & Technology; 323 from the College of Education & Health Professions; and 314 from the College of Letters & Sciences.

Most Popular Academic Disciplines: Counting all academic levels, the top five areas of study—in order of the total number of undergraduate and graduate degrees and certificates to be awarded—are nursing (College of Education & Health Professions); elementary education (College of Education & Health Professions); communication (College of the Arts); public safety administration (College of Letters & Sciences); and criminal justice (College of Letters & Sciences)

Academic Honors: Honors status is bestowed on baccalaureate degree-earners based on their final grade point average. Among this spring’s graduates, 75 will graduate summa cum laude with GPAs ranging between 3.8 and 4.0; 65 as magna cum laude with GPAs between 3.6 and 3.79; and 75 as cum laude with GPAs ranging between 3.4 and 3.59. Baccalaureate honors graduates will be denoted by wearing gold, silver or bronze medallions, depending on their level of academic honor, as part of their regalia. In addition, five associate degree graduates will graduate with high honors for having GPAs ranging between 3.8 and 4.0, and four with honors for having GPAs between 3.5 and 3.79.

First-Generation College Student Representation: As many as 53% of this spring’s graduating class identify as first-generation college students.

Graduates’ Age Range: This spring’s graduates range in age from 17 to 66 years of age.

The university’s “most senior” graduate is Richard Vale, 66, a Pensacola, Florida, native who now calls Columbus home. He will receive a bachelor of arts in history with a minor in criminal justice. He hopes to utilize his Columbus State degree in an educational or museum setting as he considers his post-graduate options.

The youngest graduate is Julia Alexandra Petallar, 17, a Fortson, Georgia, native who will receive an associate of applied science degree in criminal justice. She earned 54 of her 68 total credit hours through dual enrollment. She will continue her college studies at Columbus State in the fall as she studies political science as a pre-law alternative.

Geographic Representation: More than 82% of the spring class hails from Georgia—representing 91 of Georgia’s 159 counties. After Muscogee County, Georgia counties with the greatest number of graduates are, in order of total graduates, Harris, Gwinnett, Dekalb, Cobb, Henry and Coweta counties. The remainder represents 17 other states and U.S. territories (with Alabama topping the list based on the total graduates hailing from those states).

Honors College Participation: This spring’s graduates include eight students who completed the Honors College curriculum. They will be indicated by wearing shoulder cords with the Honors College seal as part of their regalia during the ceremony.

International Representation: Three percent of this spring’s graduation class hails from outside the United States.

Marshals: Faculty marshals serving during their respective May 10 commencement ceremony will include:

  • Esther Park, associate professor of music and the L. Rex Whiddon Distinguished Chair in Piano in the Joyce & Henry Schwob School of Music (9 a.m., College of the Arts and Turner College of Business & Technology ceremony)
  • Dr. Nehal Shukla, professor, Department of Mathematics (12:30 p.m. College of Letters & Sciences ceremony)
  • Dr. Ellen Martin, professor, Department of Kinesiology & Health Sciences (4 p.m. College of Education & Health Professions ceremony).

Military-Connected Graduates: This spring’s graduating class includes 37 active-duty servicemen and servicewomen and 132 military veterans. The spring class also includes 19 ROTC “Cougar Battalion” cadets commissioning as second lieutenants. They will be commissioned separately on May 9 and participate in their college’s respective ceremony on May 10. The 21 cadets commissioned during the 2023-24 academic year are the largest group since the battalion’s 21 commissioned cadets in 2020-21.

Scholarship Beneficiaries: More than 32% of this spring’s class of graduates benefited from institutional scholarships.

Servant Leadership Program Graduates: This spring’s graduates include 11 students who participated in the William B. Turner Center for Servant Leadership program. They will be indicated by wearing blue and white cords as part of their regalia during the ceremony.

Student-Athlete Representation: This spring’s graduates include 38 student-athletes representing Columbus State’s 13 NCAA Division II sports teams. They will be indicated by wearing student-athlete stoles as part of their regalia during the ceremony.

Teaching Contract Guarantee: Among this spring’s teacher education graduates, 11 will benefit professionally from Columbus State’s partnership with the Muscogee County School District and its “CSU Teaching Contract Guarantee.” The guarantee ensures a Muscogee County School District teaching contract for any Columbus State teacher education graduate who passes the student teaching component of their degree, and who meets Georgia Professional Standards Commission induction certification requirements. Nearly half of the school system’s teachers, counselors and administrators are Columbus State alumni—with many of them holding two and three CSU degrees.

* note: data reflects the students eligible for graduation at the time of publication, pending final grades

Media contact:
Michael Tullier, APR, Executive Director of Strategic Communication + Marketing, 706.507.8729,