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AU News

Two Commencement Ceremonies Celebrate ‘Class of 2023’

May 8, 2023
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Members of the Class of 2023 turn their tassels as they are officially recognized as graduates during undergraduate commencement exercises May 6 on the Alumni Lawn.

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More than 100 students received degrees during graduate commencement May 5 in the Henderson Auditorium. 

Anderson University celebrated its May 2023 graduates in two Commencement ceremonies.  

There was a ceremony May 5 for graduate students in the Henderson Auditorium of the Rainey Fine Arts Center and a ceremony May 6 for undergraduate students on the historic Alumni Lawn. 

More than 100 graduate students received degrees and nearly 500 undergraduates received degrees during the ceremonies. 

Longtime professor of English Dr. Bob Hanley opened each ceremony with the ringing of the University Bell. Anderson Mayor Terence Roberts officially opened the undergraduate ceremonies on Saturday morning. Giving the invocation at the graduate ceremony was Melanie Croft, Director of Library Services; and during the undergraduate ceremony, Kip Miller, Vice Chair of the Anderson University Board of Trust.

In his opening remarks at both ceremonies, Anderson University President Dr. Evans Whitaker said, “Today we reenact a ritual with roots in Medieval Europe, and though it’s steeped in ancient tradition, it’s filled with the joy and the excitement and anticipation of a celebration of achievement. And so it is, graduates, that today we celebrate your accomplishment and we celebrate you.”

During the undergraduate ceremony, President Whitaker recognized three recipients of the President’s Award, which is given to members of the graduating class who are examples of balance between campus leadership, citizenship, scholastic accomplishment, Christian commitment and concern for fellow students. The recipients were Bailey Brown, Lily Tomlinson and Cooper Reynolds.

University Provost Dr. Ryan Neal presented the Michael Boles Excellence in Teaching Award to longtime Art Professor Dr. Peter Kaniaris. The award is given to a faculty member whose character, teaching skills and devotion to his or her students and his or her academic discipline are judged to be exemplary. 

Outgoing Student Government Association President Cooper Reynolds presented the Senior Class Gift, funding for honoring the legacy of Patricia Bell, a 1954 graduate and lifelong resident of Anderson, with a beautiful bench and brick foundation that will be placed on the Bell property, which is now part of Anderson University. 

The Commencement speaker was Anderson University Vice President for Enrollment Management Pamela Bryant Ross. Mrs. Ross has been at Anderson University since 1983 and is celebrating her 40th year as a member of the Trojan Family. She is also an Anderson alumna who as a student was a member of the Denmark Society. Since joining the Anderson University staff, she has worked her way up through the Office of Admission to become director of admission in 1996 and then dean of admission in 2012. In 2016, Ross was named to Anderson’s Senior Leadership Team as Vice President for Enrollment Management. While on staff at Anderson, she has received two President’s Awards on two separate occasions.

Mrs. Ross said, “I hope you leave today, not necessarily remembering my words, but instead my sincere desire that you feel proud of this milestone you have accomplished, that you feel grateful for the experiences and people who have helped you get here, and that you feel motivated to carry all that you learned with you into your next chapter. As you think about your dreams, about your life, your future and your work—when God is in it—it’s bigger and better than you can imagine. I invite you to pause in this moment right now and think on what some of those dreams are, that purpose that you’re feeling led toward, and let me ask you, are you dreaming big enough?”

Mrs. Ross shared a few examples of leaders she admires, including former Anderson President Annie Dove Denmark, whose visionary leadership took the institution through the hard times of the Great Depression and whose presidency lasted 25 years. She urged the Class of 2023 to reflect in the coming days and weeks on others who have inspired them. 

“When you think of them, give them a call and thank them, and then be reminded of the incredible God we serve and that this institution prioritizes who has breathed life and success into our stories,” she said.

As members of Mrs. Ross’ family surrounded her, President Whitaker announced that the brick walkway that begins at the Boulevard, proceeds under the historic archway all the way up to the steps of the academic center of the university, will be known as the Pam Bryant Ross Pathway to the Future. She was also presented with a writing instrument crafted of wood by Board of Visitors member, AU graduate and local minister Rev. Hans Wunch from one of the Alumni Lawn oaks that stood when Anderson University first opened its doors. 

Music for the undergraduate ceremony was performed by faculty and students from the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University, including commencement singers conducted by Dr. Richard Williamson. Music for the graduate ceremony was performed by organist Steve Grant. Giving the benediction for the graduate ceremony was Assistant Professor of Nursing Vanessa Thompson and during the undergraduate ceremony was Professor of Physics, Dr. Stanley Paul.

Also, the Baccalaureate Service took place May 5 on the historic Alumni Lawn. The Baccalaureate speaker was Dr. Ryan Goodroe, pastor of Utica Baptist church in Seneca, South Carolina.

Videos of the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies can be viewed on the Anderson University YouTube page.

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