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101st Commencement sets new records and celebrates milestones

Posted: May 13, 2014

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During the 101st Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 10, 2014, Olivet conferred degrees upon the largest graduating class in history: a total of 1,537 graduates. From the 15 graduates in the Class of 1913 to today’s record-setting number, the University remains committed to providing “Education with a Christian Purpose.”

The Class of 2014 includes: 541 traditional undergraduate bachelor’s, 244 adult studies bachelor’s, 15 associate, 718 master’s and 16 doctorate degrees. Fourteen undergraduate students had the additional distinction of being Honors Program graduates.

A Guatemalan by birth, a licensed architect and a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Gustavo A. Crocker delivered the keynote address at the traditional undergraduate Commencement ceremony. In June 2013, he was elected as the 41st general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene at the 28th General Assembly in Indianapolis, Ind. Fluent in four languages, he has authored several books and articles in Spanish and English, and his writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

“You have been given the unique opportunity to be the generation of change,” Dr. Crocker said in addressing the graduates. “As you commence your professional life, take time to celebrate. Keep your head in the right place. Embrace your call to be a change agent.”

Honorary doctorate degrees were conferred upon Mrs. Kay (Embick) Browning '72, Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.); Rev. Lindell Browning '72, Doctor of Divinity (D.D.); and Dr. Gustavo Crocker, Doctor of Divinity (D.D.).

Bringing greetings from the Class of 1964 was Dr. Willie Dishon, who was class president and student body president during his years at Olivet. Now a pastor and professor, he has also served on Olivet’s Board of Trustees and on the Alumni Board. “My charge to you today is to go confidently and joyfully to become all that God has in mind for you to be,” he said. “Do that in the power of His Spirit and to the praise and glory of God.”

Additional highlights of the traditional undergraduate Commencement ceremony included:
Maggie Sloan Crawford Award for outstanding female graduate to Andrea Richardson (double major in information systems and mathematics education, Bloomington, Illinois)
Robert M. Milner Award for outstanding male graduate to Brian Ginn (biology major, Bourbonnais, Illinois)
Samuel L. Mayhugh Award for Scholarly Excellence to Dr. Ray Bower, chair, Department of Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Bower will be retiring at the end of this academic year.
Richard M. Jones Award for Teaching Excellence Award to Dr. Rosalie Tuttle, professor, Department of Nursing

The Commencement ceremony for the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies was held at 2:30 p.m. in Centennial Chapel. Dr. John C. Bowling '71/'72 M.A./'06 D.Div., Ed.D., D.Min., president of the University, gave the address.

“We live in a world that wants to set our identity for us,” Dr. Bowling said. “Are you you, or are you the other guy?”

Included among the graduates were:
• The first cohort to complete the requirements for the accelerated degree program and receive the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree
• The first cohort to complete the first fully online Reading Specialist degree program (READ-O.1)
• The conferring of the first Master of Divinity (MDIV) degree in pastoral ministry upon Jacob Crowley '10 (Auburn, Illinois)

Several student and faculty awards were presented, including:
• Willis E. Snowbarger Award for Teaching Excellence presented in absentia to Dr. James Miles, adjunct professor in the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. This award honors the legacy of Dr. Willis Snowbarger and recognizes the excellence in teaching throughout his time as part of Olivet’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies.
• Ralph E. Perry Student Award of Excellence presented to Jeffrey Vizueta (Chicago). This award honors the legacy of Dr. Perry’s long career with Olivet and the outstanding work of a student.

Other Commencement weekend activities included:
Baccalaureate service in Centennial Chapel, including the sermon on “Where Will You Be Living?” and charge to the Class of 2014 from Dr. Bowling. Allison Hill (music ministry major, Quincy, Illinois) and Nate Ferris (engineering major, Bourbonnais, Illinois) gave the student testimonies.
• Dedication of the Douglas E. Perry Student Life and Recreation Center
Installation of “For God So Loved the World,” a bronze sculpture by sculptor Scott Stearman, near Centennial Chapel
• Social work pinning ceremony (26 graduates), with the Spirit of Social Work Award presented to Rachel Devine (Elgin, Illinois) and Cristina Gómez (Chicago).
• Nursing pinning ceremony (38 traditional graduates), with the Sigma Theta Tau, Kappa Sigma chapter, Senior Nursing Excellence Award presented to Brena Glendenning (Stillman Valley, Illinois). During the Sigma Theta Tau installation ceremony on Thursday, May 8, 150 inductees were welcomed into the chapter.
• School of Theology and Christian Ministry graduation chapel service (47 graduates)
• Phi Delta Lambda, Gamma Chapter, induction of 71 new members and Dr. Janna McLean, dean of Olivet’s College of Arts and Sciences, as an honorary member. The Mary Ada Dillinger Service Award was presented to Carol Reams '86/'94/'00 M.P.C., assistant to the registrar at Olivet. Shanna Rull (junior, education major, Maryville, Illinois) received the chapter’s Enduring Hope Scholarship. Retiring Olivet faculty members Dr. Stan Tuttle, Dr. Gerald and Mrs. Mary Anderson '87 M.Ed. were also honored. Guest speaker was alumna Tiffanie (Mason) West '91/'07 M.B.A. of Bungee Foods.
• Military/ROTC commissioning ceremony, commissioning nine cadets as new second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Guest speaker was Olivet alumnus Gerald Smith '75, Lt. Col., USA (Ret.), Esq., M.A., Ph.D. Sam Pimpo (engineering major, Antioch, Illinois) was honored as a distinguished military graduate.