Jeffrey R. Immelt

Jeffrey R. Immelt

GREENVILLE — Clemson University honored thousands of graduates and GE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey R. Immelt in commencement ceremonies May 7. More than 2,625 bachelor’s, 550 master’s and 85 Ph.D. degrees were awarded.

Clemson officials bestowed an honorary Doctorate of Humanities on Immelt for his partnership with the university, his devotion to excellence in business and improving the lives of citizens around the globe.

Immelt is the ninth chairman of GE and a member of The American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He chaired President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Under his leadership, GE has been named by Fortune magazine as “America’s Most Admired Company,” and he has been named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” repeatedly by American financial magazine Barron’s.

The GE executive addressed the Clemson graduates, offering business advice and life skills.

“When I look around America, I see the potential greatness,” he said. “We have the greatest universities… and classes like yours, so filled with raw talent, energy and desire for achievement. And our businesses and entrepreneurship remain the best in the world. Together, I know we can compete and win. But, we have to take more chances.

“You have to create your own future, and you can’t play it safe. As you do this, you’re going to scrape your knees a few times,” he said, encouraging them to persevere.

Grad_May2016_1_106The business executive urged the graduates to employ “survival” skills. “Be flexible., take risks, do things, read a book,” he said, adding, “Learn from criticism and stand for something.

“Character is what you do when no one is looking, and character always shines through,” Immelt said,

Several additional student honors were bestowed during the commencement ceremonies.

The D.K. Norris Medal, named for a former trustee and awarded to the best all-around graduating senior, is considered the most prestigious honor bestowed upon an undergraduate student at Clemson University. The 2016 recipient is Austin Gregory Herbst of Easley.

The Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award is given annually to individuals who possess the characteristics of heart, mind and conduct with a spirit for and helpfulness to other men and women. This year’s recipients are Jennifer Robin Wilson of Charlotte, North Carolina, and Stephen Lewis Patrick of Gable, South Carolina.

Qualifying students in each college were recognized with Faculty Scholarship Awards.