UF board chair presiding over last graduation




C. Richard Beckett has heard “Pomp and Circumstance” on many a May day.

On Saturday, Beckett, 79, the outgoing chair of the University of Findlay’s board of trustees, will preside over commencement for the last time.

Beckett has served on the university board for 30 years, and said the memories and experiences he’s enjoyed at graduation ceremonies will last.

“It’s a tradition that I think is very special,” he said. “Everyone’s excited because we’re there to recognize them. I never get tired of that.”

One of Beckett’s favorite traditions is the university’s “arch walk” where students walk back through the arch they entered on their first day of school. The walk is “very symbolic,” Beckett said.

Beckett delivered the commencement address during the 2006 ceremony. He told the graduates several of his keys to success, including not having a temper, and always dressing nicely, among other things.

“I told them to be sure to get their body out of bed every day,” he said. “Attitude is probably the most important one, though.”

Beckett said one thing he will remember from his many graduations are the variety of shoes students have worn, ranging from dressier ones to cowboy boots to tennis shoes.

“It’s unpredictable,” Beckett said about the shoes. “It’s definitely an interesting perspective.”

Although this will be his final commencement as board chair, Beckett will remain on the board of trustees for one more year. Beckett said he plans to continue being involved on campus during his final year.

Beckett said the University of Findlay is a place he’ll always be dedicated to and come back to.

“If they called, I would come back,” he said. “I’ll always come back.”

Beckett, an Ohio State University graduate, may seem more enthusiastic about the University of Findlay than even some of its alumni. But it’s a characteristic that makes him a great leader, said A.R. Charnes, the current vice chair on the board.

“He’s an Ohio State guy, but you wouldn’t know that,” Charnes said. “That kind of mentality has contributed a lot.”

Beckett has helped the university expand its campus, and increase its student population. The Dr. C. Richard Beckett Animal Science Building, located at the university’s Animal Sciences Center on U.S. 68 south of Findlay, was named in his honor for helping to start the pre-veterinary program at the university nearly 30 years ago.

But Charnes said Beckett has done a lot more than that. He has helped the university survive despite past financial strains.

“What he’s done for the university is remarkable,” Charnes said. “He’s been able to lead us probably to be second to none out of the universities in the Midwest.”

While Beckett is proud of his accomplishments, he said he’s much prouder of the university as a whole and the students who will be turning their tassels on Saturday.

It will be Beckett’s last time presiding over commencement as chair, but he’s hoping it isn’t the last time he’ll get to shake hands with students walking through the arch.

“I’m proud of that university and I’m proud of all of them, too,” Beckett said.

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