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ST. GEORGE — Dixie State College celebrated commencement Friday with a very special guest.
LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson took a few moments to greet students before the processional. He said he wants the graduates to remember those who influenced them.
"Be loyal to your school," he said, "and be appreciative to those teachers who you might have thought were difficult sometimes; but they taught you, and always respect them."
"Pomp and Circumstance" accompanied faculty and students as they entered Burns Arena — the more than 1,500 make up the largest graduating class.
But graduation was only one cause for celebration Friday. The school is also marking its 100th anniversary.
"It's been a special feeling around the campus," graduate Jacob Rasmussen said. "You can just feel a difference. With the new building that's coming up and everything, it's just you can feel that the spirit is here and it's good school."
Construction is under way in the heart of the campus for a Centennial Commons. The new building and a resolution Gov. Gary Herbert signed this week will help Dixie State become a full-fledged university.
"We have to add faculty and we have to add advisors, and we'll add another few thousand students, but it'll happen. It's not a question of ‘if' it's just ‘when,'" said Dixie State President Dr. Stephen Nadauld.
Special commencement speaker, President Monson received an honorary doctorate in humanities. "It's not merely willingness to work hard that's brought you to this place," he told the students," but also qualities of character that you have developed throughout your lives."
Nadauld said it may take anywhere from five to seven years, but Dixie State College is no on its way to becoming a university.