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Last week was filled with joyful ceremonies celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates, and I always look forward to these special opportunities to congratulate our Sun Devils and their families. During May commencement ceremonies, I had the pleasure of conferring 15,000 graduate and undergraduate degrees to our newest alumni, which included 8,400 Arizona residents, nearly 3,000 online students, more than 700 student veterans and 450 Starbucks College Achievement Plan (SCAP) graduates. We also welcomed MIT President Rafael Reif and honored his achievements and educational leadership with an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
In my message to the Class of 2018 , I recognized their exemplary creativity, compassion and commitment to making the world a better place, and how that understanding reassures and inspires me about the future. A first-generation college graduate, President Reif reminded us that education is a privilege that doesn't belong solely to the individual; it is a gift for inventing your future and solving problems that help others. ASU strives to reflect that belief in all it does, as underscored in conversation earlier that day with SCAP partners who shared their transformational stories of perseverance and educational achievement. Student success drives all we do, and I hope you will join us in applauding this milestone for our amazing grads.
The semester has come to a close, but our institutional efforts to create new and accessible learning opportunities never slow down. I was proud to join Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), last week in Phoenix to announce our partnership in the LACMA-ASU Master's Fellowship in Art History. This new program administered by Herberger Institute of Design and the Arts faculty and LACMA staff will address the critical need for additional museum curators with diverse perspectives and offer master's-level coursework and a thesis with hands-on work experience at LACMA or the ASU Museum of Art.
LACMA and ASU share a commitment to transformative innovation that enhances equity, and we are excited combine our respective strengths to develop new solutions. Our new fellowship program is the first of other anticipated academic and artistic collaborations between ASU and LACMA aimed at redesigning the 21st-century museum experience to include a wider array of voices and participants. I invite you to learn more about this alliance and to share your ideas for future projects.
This is the season for scholarship announcements and decisions, and ASU has enjoyed a flood of good news in recent weeks. Sometimes I get the perk of congratulating new Sun Devils or giving good news to current ones, and I enjoy those opportunities. For example, University Provost Mark Searle and I recently surprised ASU student and Prescott City Council Member Alexa Scholl with word that she had received the prestigious Truman Scholarship. You can watch Alexa's reaction here . She plans to attend law school before advancing a career in municipal law and public service.
Soon afterward, I had the pleasure of congratulating Barrett Honors College student Charity Bhehbe on receiving the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of the most selective awards in the world. Charity will be traveling to the U.K. to pursue a doctorate in pharmacology.
We also learned recently that the majority of 2018 Flinn Scholars, one of Arizona's most sought-after scholarships, have chosen to attend ASU next fall. I enjoy learning about these students each year and following their progress at ASU. These are just a few examples of the outstanding caliber of students thriving in our university community, and we are very proud to support and share in their accomplishments.
On occasion, I also have the privilege of experiencing a special acknowledgement.
I was invited to visit the University of Nebraska, Omaha last week to accept an honorary degree for my work in higher education innovation and access during their commencement celebration. I visited the UNO campus and spent time with Chancellor Jeffrey Gold discussing the future of learning, transdisciplinarity, and university design.
Shortly before that, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to attend the National Science Foundation's annual awards, where I joined my fellow Council on Competitiveness directors in receiving the National Science Board's 2018 Public Service Award. This recognition honors individuals or organizations that have made meaningful contributions to expanding public understanding of science and engineering on a national scale. In my role as the council's University Chair, I am proud to help evolve new and better ways to share this critical knowledge, now and in the future.