Purdue University Global holds first commencement; over 9,000 graduates make up historic cohort

Published June 14, 2018 Purdue University Global held its first graduation ceremony June 2 at the Rosemont Theater outside of Chicago, at which more than 9,000 online graduates were recognized for their academic accomplishments.

Purdue Global became Indiana’s newest public institution of higher education earlier this year, when it officially acquired Kaplan University, expanding Purdue’s land-grant mission by providing access to higher education for the tens of millions of working adults who started but did not complete a college degree and for others unable to attend a traditional college campus.

Andrew S. Rosen, chairman and CEO of Kaplan Inc., gave the commencement address, and Purdue President Mitch Daniels offered his commendations to the graduates at the ceremony by video.

Rosen’s message to the nearly 600 graduates attending the ceremony in person focused on the importance of their individual academic accomplishments achieved at a time in their own lives, when most are also juggling full-time employment and family obligations.

"There is a long history in American higher education of incumbents resisting the expansion of access to higher education, but an equally remarkable history of the new institutions overriding that resistance and adding to the strength of our system," Rosen said. "There is something so fitting that this new university was forged from two institutions that were part of different waves of innovation in America’s higher education history, each of which overcame traditionalist skepticism by delivering consistent excellence over time. Our graduating class today is largely made up of people the traditional education system still often ignores."

Purde Global Grad A 2018 graduate celebrates June 2 during Purdue University Global's first graduation ceremony at the Rosemont Theatre near Chicago.
Also in attendance were Paul Bott, JoAnn Brouillette, Malcolm DeKryger, Michael Klipsch and Don Thompson, all members of the Purdue University Global Board of Trustees; Bill Sullivan, Purdue treasurer and chief financial officer; Frank Dooley, Purdue senior vice provost for teaching and learning; and Morgan Burke, Purdue vice president for special projects.

Trustee Klipsch said: “The graduation celebrated the primary goal of Purdue University Global -- making access to higher education easier and affordable for all working adults. We're able to serve a broader, nontraditional population of adult learners, from students balancing work and family to first-generation college students to active military personnel and veterans.

"The pride and passion we heard from both the graduates and their families was amazing. I think it is fair to say that all of us walked away very inspired and proud."

Graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctoral degrees, were awarded from the Schools of Business and Information Technology, Education, Health Sciences, Nursing, Open College, Concord Law School and the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Betty Vandenbosch, chancellor of Purdue University Global, conferred the degrees.

Among the 9,797 graduates, 2,155 received associate degrees, 3,704 bachelor's degrees, 2,481 master's degrees, 106 doctoral degrees and 1,364 certificates. Some graduates completed multiple certificates or levels.

Of the students receiving bachelor's degrees:
* 69 percent were women.
* 72 percent were age 30 or older.
* 25 percent were underrepresented minorities.
* 43 percent were first-generation college students.
* 40 percent were military affiliated.

Of the students receiving master's degrees:
* 77 percent were women.
* 80 percent were age 30 or older.
* 38 percent were underrepresented minorities.
* 39 percent were first-generation college students.
* 20 percent were military affiliated.
* 33 percent received their bachelor's degree from Purdue Global.

Of the students receiving doctoral degrees:
* 58 percent were women.
* 98 percent were age 30 or older.
* 21 percent were underrepresented minorities.
* 40 percent first-generation college students.
* 7 percent were military affiliated.
* 8 percent received their bachelor's degree from Purdue Global.

Information was available for 5,549 students regarding first-generation student status.