Who could have asked for a more beautiful Commencement Weekend this year at Bethany College?
With 154 members of the Class of 2013 assembled with their families and friends on May 18 at the Tilock Amphitheatre in the Pennington Quadrangle, the sun shone bright along with the prospects for these new alumni. Following an inspiring and very well-received Baccalaureate sermon the evening before by the Rev. Dr. Jack Sullivan, Jr., Regional Minister and President of the Pennsylvania Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), on Saturday morning our graduating seniors were convened for the last time.
Our Commencement address this year, “Times of Change Are Times of Opportunity,” was delivered by Ralph Baxter, Chairman Emeritus of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
“I believe that you are graduating at the most dynamic time in the history of human kind,” Mr. Baxter told the graduates. “The world is changing faster today than it ever has. The change in the world is pervasive, it is universal, and it will create opportunities for all of you in your lifetimes.”
For their special contributions to Commencement 2013, we presented honorary doctorates to both Jack Sullivan and Ralph Baxter. As with many of our distinguished and perceptive guests over the years, they summed up the tone and tenor of our time, with all of its anxiety-producing impact, but suggested that our graduating seniors discover for themselves the special purpose of their lives and the resulting pathways to personal fulfillment through social responsibility.
This is the spirit that unites Bethanians across the generations—the willingness to do the right thing for the benefit of others. In my own comments to the Class of 2013, I acknowledged that we live in challenging times. Their generation, I reminded them, “is called to address worldwide strife; to rebuild our nation’s roads and bridges; to preserve our fragile environment; to explore further sources of renewable energy; to foster innovation and economic growth.”
“It’s a tall order,” I concluded, “but generations of Bethanians before you have left these halls to accomplish all these goals and more.”
Recognition of two outstanding graduates during this year’s Alumni Weekend confirmed this tradition.
Justice Kaye Gorenflo Hearn, Class of 1972, was honored with the Alumni Achievement Award. Elected to the South Carolina Supreme Court in 2009, she is only the second woman on the state’s highest court. After graduating fifth in her class from Bethany, she went on to graduate cum laude from the University of South Carolina School of Law and later, she earned an L.L.M. degree from the University of Virginia’s Graduate Program for Judges. We were happy to welcome Justice Hearn, our Darline Nicholson Breakfast speaker two years ago, back to Bethany to receive this latest honor from her alma mater.
Jeff Flick, Class of 1982, president and CEO of BD&E in Pittsburgh, was the recipient of the 2013 Alumnus of the Year Award. Jeff has worked in the marketing communications field for the past 30 years. He has been the project manager for comprehensive branding, identity and marketing communications programs for a variety of publicly-traded corporations. His clients include Bethany College, for whom he has produced many of our marketing and branding campaigns and materials. Most recently, his firm designed the uniforms for Bethany’s new marching band, The Stampede, which will debut this fall at Bison Stadium.
Bethanians make their mark in numerous ways, and we are proud of all who have enriched our world with their talents and generosity. I am confident that the Class of 2013 will be no less engaged and influential in their world.
As we conclude another outstanding academic year, we pause to thank everyone who has brought our newest Bethany alumni to this important milestone: the devoted faculty and staff on campus who have mentored them; the parents, families, friends, and classmates who have stood behind them; and the alumni of the College who are generous with their time, counsel, and career connections.
To the Class of 2013, congratulations, and to all Bethanians everywhere, thank you for your support and continuing engagement with A Small College of National Distinction.