There was much to celebrate on Saturday, May 8, for 231 individuals who received degrees during Tusculum College’s spring commencement ceremony. Smiles were prevalent on stage and in the standing room-only Pioneer Arena.
Seventy-eight students earned Bachelor of Science degrees in organizational management and 115 earned Bachelor of Arts degrees. In addition 38 earned Master of Arts degrees.
Walking with this spring’s graduates were representatives of the Tusculum College Class of 1960 who are celebrating their 50th anniversary year. Representatives walked in the procession, clothed in golden caps and gowns and were recognized during the ceremony by Dr. Nancy B. Moody, president of Tusculum College.
The new graduates were addressed by Moody, who recognized the commencement ceremony as “an occasion of celebration and completion.” Adding, “I encourage you to savor the occasion and to recognize all of those in this room who have sacrificed so that you could achieve your dream.”
Glenn Vicary, a pre-med major from Oak Ridge addressed the crowd as a representative of the Residential College program. Vicary has been accepted to the pharmacy graduate program at the University of Louisville.
He told the group, “Life is defined by what is achieved, and fellow students, we have achieved a college education. Every one of us came to Tusculum College hoping to earn a college degree, but none of us knew what it would encompass in the next four years. The amount of work was often tedious, intense and sometimes overwhelming. We learned to help each other and a sense of community has arisen within our class.”
He encouraged the class to continue to achieve with action, adding, “Our lives will lead is in different directions, with some of us going on to further education, while others are going out into the workforce. Just like your career at Tusculum College, spend your life achieving great things, not just saying you will.”
William Keene of Knoxville spoke on behalf of the college’s Graduate and Professional Studies program. Keene, who received his master of arts in education degree, focused on his long and winding journey toward completion of his degree.
Keene began his road to higher education later in life, after joining the U.S. Air Force. He returned to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts and believed his school days were completed. However, a twist in his career path placed him in the company of co-workers who wanted to enroll in the master’s program and encouraged him to “be an example.”
It was a long road, but something he would cherish, he told the crowd. “I worked hard for this. Like many of you here today, my family sacrificed so I could succeed.”
Also speaking was Dr. Stephen R. Weisz, chaplain and associate professor of religious studies. Weisz presented a sermon titled, “Be Patient.” Weisz encouraged the graduates to “be patient in things big and small” because in “the real world, things don’t happen overnight.”
He added that they should “see life as an opportunity to cherish each day.”
In addition to the presentation of the undergraduate and graduate degrees, Dr. Moody presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters to Dr. Russell L. Nichols, who served as interim president at the College from 2007-2009.
Having served as interim president during a time of transition for the college, Dr. Nichols earned the respect, friendship and admiration of those associated with the college during his tenure, said Moody.
Currently serving as interim chief executive officer of Concordia University in Michigan, Nichols also retains the title of president emeritus at Hanover College in Indiana, an institution he served as president for 20 years. At Tusculum, Nichols focused on ensuring financial stability, while at the same time he helped develop an international program and study-abroad opportunities for students and led the efforts to create the college’s Center for Global Studies.
Moody added, “While at Tusculum, Dr. Nichols gained high praise from staff, faculty, students and community members for his guiding hand in keeping the College on course as the search for a new sitting president was conducted. He was a focused leader who guided the college’s efforts in strategic planning and college-wide efforts to ensure a viable, dynamic institution for many generations to come.”
Also on the program was recognition of three outstanding faculty members, who were presented Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership awards. Recognized were Dr. Bill Garris, assistant professor of psychology; Dr. Rhonda Smith, director of the School of Business and professor of management, and Dr. Melanie Narkawicz, associate professor of research.
See the Commencement Program online - click here.