"Receiving a college diploma" was the common theme during the two commencement exercises in Catawba College's Keppel Auditorium on Saturday, May 14. The different exercises were for two distinct populations of students at the institution.
Those earning baccalaureate degrees in the college's traditional day program participated in a 10 a.m. ceremony, while those earning master of education degrees and baccalaureate degrees in the School of Evening and Graduate Studies (SEGS) participated in a 2 p.m. ceremony. In both exercises, Catawba College President Dr. Joseph B. Oxendine, a 1952 alumnus of the institution, delivered a charge to the graduates and N.C. public servant, television show host, and newspaper columnist, D.G. Martin, delivered a commencement address.
Oxendine's Charge to Graduates
In his first commencements as Catawba's president, Oxendine told the graduates, "You have completed your examinations and received your diplomas. Perhaps you thought that no more tests were to be taken. I must inform you, however, that now the real testing starts. The most important testing is yet to come. From now until you retire from your life's work, and thereafter, you are going to be tested on how effectively you put into practice those lessons that you have learned in your academic studies and about which you have heard today."
He shared his hope with the graduates that they would "measure up" as effectively as they had done on the tests they had taken as students at Catawba. "We are all proud of you today," he said, adding that he hoped that 10 years from now, and 50 years from now, people acquainted with the graduates will say, "Now there is an individual who is really making a difference in this community."
Oxendine noted the distinctiveness of each group of graduates participating in the two different ceremonies. In the 10 a.m. ceremony, the 190 traditional day graduates were 48 percent women and 52 percent men, hailing from 20 states and five countries with a median age of 23. In the 2 p.m. ceremony, the 103 SEGS graduates were 71 percent women and 29 percent men, hailing only from North Carolina, with a median age of 38.
D.G. Martin's Remarks
Martin shared two pieces of advice with the graduates, one involving the college and one involving their families. He encouraged them to spend time with both.
Regarding the college, he said, "Your relationship with Catawba changes today, but it doesn't end. This place will always be where you went to college. Here is what I want you to remember: The better Catawba is and the better it gets in the future, the better it is and will be for you. The better it is, the better people will think of you as the holder of a Catawba degree. So, when you help make Catawba better, it lifts you up, too.
"Give back, not just with your money, but also be a cheerleader and a volunteer. Spread the word. Recruit good students. And come back, for athletics and otherEvents — and just to walk the grounds. Years from now, when your family is scattered and the home where you grew up is gone and you live somewhere else, Catawba will still be here for you, like it is today, ready to help bring back the 'old times.' Remember this when you need it. Come back here. Come home. And help Catawba."
Regarding the families, Martin encouraged the graduates to spend some quality time with their parents or a senior family member before time slips away. "Take your mom or your dad to a quiet place — just the two of you. Take a pen and notebook. Express thanks and then ask for a description of life's lessons learned and for advice and suggestions that might be helpful to you as you begin this new phase of your life.
"Then listen, take notes, don't interrupt, don't argue, don't talk at all, except to say 'What else?' Just listen, wait, listen, wait, listen. What you will hear and remember tomorrow will be more meaningful, more useful than any advice any graduation speaker could ever give you."
Martin's full remarks are available on the Graduation web page.
Special Awards and Recognitions
Special awards were given to the top graduates during each ceremony. During the 10 a.m. commencement exercise, the annual Whitener Awards were presented. The Whitener Awards have been presented each year at the graduation ceremony since 1927 in memory of Dr. Edgar Whitener of High Point, North Carolina, who served as a trustee of Catawba College from 1921 to 1966 and as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1925 to 1944. The medals honor the man and woman in the graduating class who embody, to a high degree, the qualities of good character, leadership, and scholarship. Recipients are nominated, with final selections made by the faculty.
Kendra Joyner of Petersburg, Va., formerly from Rock Springs, Wyoming, was the female recipient. She majored in religion and philosophy, had a stellar academic career and was very active on campus. She participated in the Student Government Association, serving as student body president her senior year and as a junior class senator. She was active in the Delphinian Society, a service organization for women, in Environment Catawba Outreach (E.C.O.), and Volunteer Catawba. She ran cross-country, and was a member of the Lilly Center's Leadership Corps. This fall, she will enroll in Yale Divinity School.
Mark Ketterer of Hamilton, New Jersey was the male Whitener Award recipient. He was a mathematics major who plans a career in education. He was a member of Alpha Chi national honor society, and Kappa Mu Epsilon, the mathematics honor society, and Kappa Delta Pi, the education honor society. He served the college as a Junior Marshal. A student-athlete, he was a four-year starter on the Men's Soccer team and served as that team's captain. Involved in community service, he served for three years as a math tutor for local students and as a volunteer coach for the Carolina Alliance. He also worked with Special Olympics and served as a Catawba teaching fellow, assisting a freshman seminar advisor.
Charles Lester Campbell of Concord, who earned a bachelor of business administration degree with a concentration in business management, was the 2011 recipient of the Barbara Andrews Award.
The Barbara Andrews Award is presented to the graduating senior in the School of Evening and Graduate Studies who most successfully embodies the attributes of character, leadership and scholarship. This award was established and named in honor of Barbara Andrews, the first director of this Program at Catawba. The selection is made by the Catawba College faculty from the six graduating seniors in the program with the highest grade point averages. Students eligible are those who have attended Catawba for at least two years and have earned a cumulative grade point average of at least a 3.5.
Before transferring to Catawba, Campbell attended Central Piedmont Community College. He has served as Director of Network Services for TIAA CREF for the past year. Prior to his employment at TIAA CREF, he worked for Bank of America as an Assistant Vice President - Senior Network Engineer, Vice President - Senior Network Architect, Vice President - Network Technical Manager, and Senior Vice President - Global LAN Products and Services Manager. He was one of the top 1% of Bank of America's technology associates selected to receive that corporation's Award of Excellence. Campbell has also held positions with Piedmont Technology Group, Arthur Anderson & Company, and Moore & Van Allen.
Active in his church, Pitts Baptist Church in Concord, in the Boy Scouts of America and as a volunteer budget counselor at Crown Financial Ministries, Campbell and his wife of 20 years, Becky, the two have three children, ages 12, 14 and 16.
Retiring Faculty Members Recognized
Three retiring faculty members were recognized for their years of service to the institution. They were Dr. Bethany Sinnott, a professor of English with 42 years of service, Dr. Sanford Silverburg, a professor of Political Science with 40 years of service, and Dr. George Drum, a professor of Biology and Chemistry with 23 years of service.