News - Class of 2018 Makes History As First to Graduate From Greenville University

Class of 2018 Makes History As First to Graduate From Greenville University

The Class of 2018 made history May 12, when graduates in two services crossed the Commencement stage to receive congratulatory handshakes and diplomas. They are the first graduates to earn degrees from Greenville University, formerly Greenville College.

Cooley-JennerIn the morning service, the University recognized graduates from the School of Adult Studies, the Briner School of Business and the School of Education. In the afternoon, it recognized graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Professional Studies and the Bastian School of Theology, Philosophy, and Ministry.

Among the students to receive degrees was Samantha Cooley (pictured at left with Assistant Professor of Agribusiness and Economics Mark Jenner), the first student in Greenville University’s history to graduate with a major in agribusiness.

Wenyika Delivers Dynamic Commencement Address

In both services, Dr. Reggies Wenyika, president of Southwestern Christian University, delivered a stirring address entitled “Your Time and Your Chance.” He advised students to find their purpose, seek excellence and pursue lifelong learning.

He drew from his own experience, rising against all odds from an abused child to an orphan steeped in poverty, and finally to a position of influence and impact as an adult.  

“Push yourself; confound the critics,” he exhorted graduates. “Keep on learning.”

“Turn your love for social media into progress-cyclopedias; turn your emotions into motion; your energy into beneficial synergy; your passion into a new tone, style and fashion; your reservations into reformations; your information into innovation; your intentions into inventions; your festivity into creativity; your fears into cheers. Turn them. Find your rhythm . . . make your mark. Seize the day. Today is your day.”Laura Goodnight

Awardees and Special Recognition

In the morning service, alumnus Dr. Roy Bahl ’61 received the honorary doctorate of laws. Bahl is Regents Professor of Economics emeritus and founding dean of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Also in the morning service, graduate Laura Goodnight (pictured at right, top) received the newly established President’s Award for Character and Service. The award recognizes a graduating senior’s dedication to a life of Christian character and service displayed through examples of selflessness, generosity of service, nobility of character, personal integrity and commitment to Christian faith.

In the afternoon service, Kellie Steele received the President’s Citation. This award recognizes highest academic achievement in the context of a Christian liberal arts program. Steele successfully completed a triple major in biology, chemistry and Spanish, while maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA. She is a veteran of the University’s summer science research program and co-author of a published paper that flowed from that research.

In the afternoon service, President Ivan Filby presented the W. Richard Stephens Outstanding Faculty Award to Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music Jeff Wilson (pictured at right, bottom).

Emeriti Recognized for 126 Years of Combined Service

Jeff Wilson AwardPrior to Commencement services, the Board of Trustees granted emeriti status to four retiring members of the Greenville University community. Those recognized for a combined 126 years of service were emeriti trustees Dave Colgan and Dennis Fenton, emeriti staff Norm Hall, Kent Krober and Ella Peters; and emerita faculty member Georgann Kurtz-Shaw.

 Learn More

2018 Baccalaureate Service with Rev. David Hawkins
2018 Commencement Service – Morning Celebration
2018 Commencement Service – Afternoon Celebration

Your gift to The Greenville University Fund provides the scholarships that help students make it to Commencement day. Click here to give.

This story was published on May 15, 2018




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