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New President, Former U.S. Ambassador, and Special Speakers to Figure in Catawba's May 12 Graduation Exercises

May 4, 2012

Category: Academics, Evening & Graduate, Events, Sociology, Students

GraduateCatawba College's new president, a Catawba alumnus who has served as a six-time U.S. Ambassador, and a Fox Network television show star will figure in the college's commencement exercises slated for Saturday, May 12 in Keppel Auditorium of the Robertson College-Community Center.

On that day, the college will award baccalaureate degrees to 194 students graduating at 10 a.m. from the traditional day program and to 106 students graduating at 2 p.m. from the School of Evening and Graduate Studies. Seating is limited for both exercises and those planning to attend will need a ticket to enter the 1,450-seat venue.

Jasika Nicole Pruitt, a 2002 alumnus of Catawba and one of the stars of the Fox television series, "Fringe," will deliver the commencement address during the 10 a.m. ceremony. Pruitt, born in Alabama, studied theatre, dance, voice and studio art at Catawba. In addition to playing Astrid Farnsworth on "Fringe," her other film and television credits include "Take the Lead" with Antonio Banderas, "Law and Order," "The Mastersons of Manhattan," "The Return of Jezebel James," "She's Out of My League," as well as many television commercials, regional theatre and even the New York stage.

Robert Kincaid, also a 2002 alumnus of Catawba's School of Evening and Graduate Studies, will be the commencement speaker for the 2 p.m. ceremony. He earned his bachelor's degree at Catawba and then went on to earn his MBA from UNC Chapel Hill. He is employed as vice president of supply chain at RockTenn in Winston-Salem.

Chancellor Emeritus of UNC Pembroke, Dr. Joseph Oxendine '52, who served as Catawba's interim president until the April 16 arrival of President Brien Lewis, will deliver the charge to each group of graduates. Each ceremony is expected to last approximately two hours.

The Whitener Awards, given annually to the top academic male and female in the traditional program's graduating class, will be presented during the 10 a.m. exercise, while the Barbara Andrews Award, given annually to the top academic student in the evening program, will be presented during the 2 p.m. exercise.

The O.B. Michael Award will be presented to six-time U.S. Ambassador William Lacy Swing, a 1956 Catawba alumnus, during the 10 a.m. exercise. The O. B. Michael Award has been presented annually since 1938 by the Catawba College Board of Directors of the Alumni Association. It is given to a graduate of the College who has made an outstanding contribution to the College and/or the larger society. Swing, a native of Lexington, now lives in Geneva, Switzerland, where he serves as the Director General of the International Organization for Migration.

Graduates and their families are invited to gather and visit over lemonade on the front lawn of the Robertson College-Community Center following each ceremony, weather permitting.

Baccalaureate Service, May 11th
Graduating seniors from both the traditional day and the School of Evening and Graduate Studies programs will attend Catawba's Baccalaureate Service at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 11 in the Omwake-Dearborn Chapel on campus and tickets are not required.

William Lacy Swing, a 1956 alumnus and six-time U.S. Ambassador, will deliver the homily at the Service.

Following the Baccalaureate Service, members of the graduating class will process by candlelight in the traditional Marshal's Walk from the chapel, along Oliver's Way, to the exterior of the Robertson College-Community Center. There, they will gather as College Marshal David Pulliam and other student representatives share brief remarks. A reception in Peeler Crystal Lounge for the graduates and their families will conclude the evening.

For a complete listing of graduation activities, visit the college website at


PhotosPHOTOS: Graduation 2012

NewsGraduation Information


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