During the University’s 182nd Final Exercises, 6,248 degrees were conferred to the Class of 2011. This year’s ceremony was particularly colorful, as the number of balloons floating over the heads of new graduates seemingly rivaled the number of degrees conferred. The commencement speaker, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, offered graduates advice he called “well worn” but worth repeating: “Follow the Golden Rule; do unto others as you’d have them do to you. Help and serve your neighbor. Be kind and generous to others. Take responsibility for others, and make no excuses. Give back to your community, generously. Live today well. Do not worry about tomorrow. … Always vote. Tip well. Never miss the opportunity to enjoy a sunset or a sunrise. And always try to follow the rules of the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts; No. 1, be prepared, and No. 2, always try to leave the campground a little better than you found it.”
Jefferson’s University of Virginia was to be a modern, secular, science-centered university taught by scholars of distinction, with the students expected largely to govern themselves.