Graduation takes star turn with Merle Haggard, Buck Owens honors

Graduation takes star turn with Merle Haggard, Buck Owens honors »Play Video
Country music legend Merle Haggard receives an honorary doctorate as California State University, Bakersfield holds a graduation ceremony Friday, June 14, 2013, in the CSUB Amphitheater.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — More than 2,100 students are graduating this week from California State University, Bakersfield.

The second of three graduation ceremonies was held Friday morning with two special guests - country music legend Merle Haggard and musician Buddy Alan, son of the late Buck Owens.

Haggard received an honorary doctorate in fine arts, telling the crowd, "On behalf of all the songwriters and entertainers that's come up through the Bakersfield Sound, I'd like to say we appreciate this, and it's nice to be noticed."

Owens posthumously received the President's Medal. Alan accepted the honor on behalf of his father. The President's Medal, presented annually since 1997, is one of the highest honors the university bestows, according to CSUB.

Haggard and Owens are the most influential men behind the Bakersfield Sound, "the loud, stripped-down and radio-ready music" born out of the 1940s and 1950s honky-tonks of Bakersfield, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

CSUB graduations

-- Graduate and hooding commencement ceremony for all schools was held Tuesday night in the Icardo Center.

-- Arts and Humanities, Business and Public Administration, and Natural Sciences, Mathematics and Engineering held their ceremony Friday morning in the CSUB Amphitheater.

-- Social Sciences and Education will hold a ceremony 7 a.m. Saturday in the CSUB Amphitheater