APSU’s Fall Commencement 2016 honored over 700 students graduating from the university on Friday, Dec. 9. The ceremony took place at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the Dunn Center.

Students graduating from the College of Arts and Letters and the College of Science and Mathematics received their degrees during the 9 a.m. ceremony. The College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, the College of Business and the Martha Dickerson Eriksson College of Education saw their students graduate during the 2 p.m. ceremony.

Mike Gotcher, the 2016 recipient of the APSU National Alumni Association Distinguished Professor Award, delivered the commencement address during both ceremonies. Upon completion of his speech, Gotcher invited the entire auditorium to participate in the “Mannequin Challenge” in an effort to ensure his speech was memorable for the graduating class.

Gotcher said the record for the “Mannequin Challenge” was 120 people and he wanted APSU to break it.

Among the graduates was Michelle Elise Turner, who received a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

“I thought [Gotcher’s speech] was awesome,” Turner said, “At first I didn’t think he was serious, but when he said the crew was ready, I was like ‘oh snap, this is actually happening.’”

Turner’s pose of choice for the challenge was the classic “selfie.”

APSU President Alisa White, after hearing Gotcher speak, said “it takes a lot to surprise me” and that his address had done so.

White also said she was sad to see Gotcher leave his position at APSU to become the Dean at Tennessee Technological University.

Mitchell Short, a graduate with a Bachelor of Science in criminal justice, said he hopes to use his degree to eventually work at the federal level.

“My ideal plan is to work local for a few years at the police department here in Montgomery County, then move to the TBI and then FBI,” Short said.

The ceremony honored APSU faculty as well as graduating students. In addition to Gotcher, several APSU faculty members were given awards.

Professor David Steinquest received the Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Faculty Award for Community service.

Associate professors Korre Foster, Melissa Gomez and Rodney Mills received the Socrates Award, which is given to tenure-track faculty members who have been judged to be outstanding classroom teachers.

Associate professor Roman Holovchak received the Richard M. Hawkins Award, which is given based on noteworthy contributions to scholarship or creative activity.

Even as the graduating class looks to the future, some have reflected on what their time at APSU meant to them, including Short.

“I’ve met some of the best friends I’ve ever had here, and APSU, because of that, is synonymous with family.”