Springfield, Ohio - Wittenberg University's 167th Commencement exercises will take place Saturday, May 13, in picturesque Commencement Hollow, where members of the university community will celebrate scholarship with 430 degree candidates slated to cross the stage.
Before Wittenberg celebrates Commencement, the Class of 2017 will hold its Baccalaureate service on Friday, May 12. Pre-service music will begin at 2 p.m., with the ceremony starting at 2:15 p.m.
The Baccalaureate service, planned by members of the senior class and Matevia Endowed University Pastor, Rachel Sandum Tune, is an academic and religious tradition that celebrates the upcoming commencement festivities surrounding graduating students. It offers seniors an opportunity to reflect on their time at Wittenberg and to look to faith as they begin the next step in their journey.
Members of the Class of 2017 will reflect on their experience of growth and change at Wittenberg. Those speaking include Camila Quinones, Cameron Black, Adam Barstow, Parisa Bennett, Kyle Powers and Meaghan Summers. Pastor Rachel Tune will deliver the homily.
Readers include Alec Nutting, Jack Brubaker, O'Jeannique Washington and Amanda Wampler, as well as Jessica Hamm and Amanda Rogus leading the congregation in a psalm. Courtney Queen, Cheyanna Snyder, Leah Markovich and Mark Wright share various prayers throughout the service.
Pre-service music will feature solos by Tanner Jobes, piano; Irene Reisling, voice; Mary Beth Bechler, harp; and a duet by Angelique Gabrielle, cello, and Alina Bondor, violin. Special music throughout the service will be shared by seniors of the Wittenberg Choir and Wittenberg Singers, as well as Wittenberg's a cappella groups, Just Eve and the Wittmen Crew. Accompanying on hymns will be Bondor on violin and Morgan Miller on trumpet.
An annual tradition also includes the lighting of a memorial candle in honor of loved ones who cannot be at Commencement, as well as in memory of loved ones who have died. Philip Buford will introduce the candle; Madeline Imler and Olivia Oldham will read Psalm 121 as Hannah Meier lights the candle. This year, a special remembrance of classmate Charles "Chase" Gage IV, who died in 2015, will be given by Christian "Kip" Olson, Emily Faas and Rebecca Joseph.
In the spirit of Wittenberg's mission: "Reflecting its Lutheran heritage, Wittenberg challenges its students to become responsible global citizens, to discover their callings, and to lead personal, professional, and civic lives of creativity, service, compassion, and integrity," the planning committee also selects the beneficiaries of the offering at the Baccalaureate service. All donations will be divided evenly this year among four causes: Lesotho Nutrition Initiative, introduced by Jhena Kowaleski; Springfield Promise Neighborhood, introduced by Grace Gielink; Rocking Horse Clinic, introduced by Lauren Elwell; and refugee work through Church World Service, introduced by Grace Bartley.
For Commencement exercises, the Myers Hall bell will toll multiple times Saturday morning to notify the campus that the ceremony will be held in its intended outdoor location at the scheduled time of 11:30 a.m. If the bell does not ring, that will be a signal that the ceremony will take place in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center, with doors scheduled to open at 9 a.m. Guests should be seated at either venue no later than 11 a.m. as doors will close promptly at 11:15 a.m. for the academic procession.
Guests without tickets are welcomed and encouraged to view the indoor ceremony via a video broadcast transmitted to classrooms throughout Hollenbeck Hall.
Special parking and seating have been arranged for physically disabled guests. For Commencement exercises held outdoors, physically disabled guests may enter campus before 10 a.m. through the drive on North Plum Street. A Wittenberg security officer will be at the driveway entrance to give instructions for parking and seating. In the event the exercises are held indoors, guests who are physically disabled may be dropped off in front of the HPER Center. Because of limited space in the HPER Center, seating is at a premium, so disabled guests may be seated with only one friend or family member.
The 2017 Commencement speaker is Sandra L. Postel '78, the director of the independent Global Water Policy Project, through which she lectures, writes and consults on global water issues. In 2010, she was appointed Freshwater Fellow of the National Geographic Society. A native of Franklin Square, N.Y., she is also co-creator of Change the Course, the national freshwater conservation and restoration initiative pioneered by National Geographic and its partners to restore billions of gallons of water to depleted rivers and wetlands.
A leading authority and prolific author on international water issues, Postel has authored more than 100 articles for popular and scholarly publications, as well as 20 op-ed features that have appeared in more than 30 newspapers in the United States and abroad, including The New York Times, The L.A. Times and the Washington Post. Postel will receive an honorary doctor of science at the ceremony.
Postel is one of two individuals receiving honors during Wittenberg's 2017 Commencement Exercises. Christopher Philip Long, class of 1991, will also be presented an honorary doctor of humane letters during the ceremony. Long currently serves as dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University. He graduated from Wittenberg with a B.A. in philosophy and political science, and received his master's and doctoral degrees at the New School for Social Research in New York.
Long, who has published books, given lectures and conducted demonstrations on the topics of philosophy and digital humanities, is a co-founder of the Public Philosophy Journal, which creates an innovative online space of digital scholarship and communication. The journal is a project that has received more than $780,000 in funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
A live online stream of the event will be available. For that link and additional Commencement information, visit www.wittenberg.edu/administration/commencement.html
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