Despite the downpour, a capacity crowd witnessed more than 230 Berea College seniors walk across the stage, receive their diplomas and graduate during Berea’s 141st commencement on May 5, 2013. This was the first commencement under the presidency of Dr. Lyle Roelofs. Other events held throughout the day were a pinning ceremony for nursing graduates, the Baccalaureate service, and a reception for graduates, families and guests after the commencement ceremony.
Peter J. O’Connor, a longtime civil rights activist, addressed the seniors and urged them to think of others first and strive for social justice, an ideal for which he has long advocated. O’Connor has dedicated his life and legal career to fighting social injustice, particularly in the area of affordable, quality housing for the underprivileged. During the ceremony, O’Connor was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
Dr. Lyle D. Roelofs, who began serving as Berea College’s ninth president on July 1, 2012, remarked to the graduates to recognize, celebrate and share the distinctiveness of their Berea experiences at a college known for providing tuition scholarships and work experiences.
Several academic and labor awards were presented during the ceremony.
Erin Michelle Callow, a Spanish major from Ohio City, Ohio, received the Hilda Welch Wood Award for outstanding achievement by a female student.
Ivan Anselmus Titaley, a Chemistry major from Salitiga, Indonesia, received the T.J. Wood Award for outstanding achievement by a male student.
Sandy Bolster, director of the basic mathematics program and a member of the college since 1980, received the Seabury Award for Excellence in Teaching, Berea’s highest faculty honor.
Dr. Paul Smithson, assistant professor of environmental chemistry and sustainability and environmental studies, received the Paul C. Hager Award for Excellence in Advising. Smithson earned his doctorate degree from North Carolina State University in 1990 and has been a member of the Berea College faculty since 2002.
This year there were two recipients of the Elizabeth Perry Miles Award for Community Service. Dr. Richard Olson and his wife Cheyenne were honored for their community service, particularly with projects related to sustainability. Dr. Olson serves as associate professor of sustainability and environmental studies and has been at the college since 1999. Cheyenne recently retired as a gift officer and will devote her efforts to Sustainable Berea.
The Labor Supervisor of the Year award was given to Clara Chapman, assistant director of the office of institutional research and assessment. She has worked at Berea since 1996.
Daniel Redmond, computer and information sciences major from Richmond, Kentucky, was recognized for earning both the Berea College Student Employee of the Year as well as the Kentucky Student Employee of the Year. A member of the class of 2013, Redmond worked as a teaching assistant in the computer science department.