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Olivet celebrates 100th undergraduate Commencement and 10,000th graduate degree

Posted: May 07, 2013


"We're thankful for each of these embodied young souls, created for an eternal purpose. This is the beginning of their walk of good works." (Dr. Michael Pyle, biology professor)


"The biggest decisions and the great friendships of my life were made on this campus." (Dr. Les Parrott III, speaker at undergraduate Commencement)


"Be the hands, feet and very loving heart of Jesus." (Phyllis McSwain on behalf of the Class of 1963 at undergraduate Commencement)

During the 100th Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 4, 2013, Olivet Nazarene University conferred degrees upon the largest graduating class in its history: a total of 1,428 graduates. From the 15 graduates in the Class of 1913 to today’s record-setting number, the University remains committed to providing “education with a Christian purpose.”

The Class of 2013 includes: 622 traditional undergraduate bachelor’s, 155 continuing studies bachelor’s, 17 associate’s, 616 master’s, 17 doctoral and two posthumous degrees. Eighteen undergraduate students had the additional distinction of being Honors Program graduates.

During the undergraduate ceremony, a Bachelor of Science degree in early childhood education was awarded posthumously to Miley Reed (Danville, Ill.) and was accepted by her parents, Rick and Beccy (Winkler) Reed. Reed passed away on March 14, 2013, while she was a senior at Olivet.

Dr. Les Parrott III '84, #1 New York Times best-selling author and relationship expert, delivered the keynote address. Serving as past ONU presidents were his late grandfather, Dr. A.L. Parrott, from 1939 to 1949, and his late father, Dr. Leslie Parrott II, from 1975 to 1991.

“When you have the goal of making a difference with your life, it’s not always easy,” Dr. Parrott told the graduates. “When it’s tough, do it anyway. Go the extra mile. Never lose sight of living the significant life.”

A video message from Rev. George Reader, a 1929 graduate and Olivet’s oldest living alumnus at age 106, delighted all who attended. He charged the graduates: “Use your education to glorify God.”

Phyllis (Starner) McSwain '63 shared greetings and words of encouragement from the Class of 1963: “Listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit as you walk your 50-year journey of faith. Follow God’s call on your life. We’re here today to cheer you on. May God shower you with more blessings that you can possible imagine.”

Additional highlights of the traditional undergraduate Commencement ceremony included:
Maggie Sloan Crawford Award for outstanding female graduate to Devin Johnston (mathematics education major, Bloomingdale, Ill.)
Robert M. Milner Award for outstanding male graduate to Lucas Sanor (biology major, Chebanse, Ill.)
• Samuel L. Mayhugh Award for Scholarly Excellence to Dr. David Van Heemst '96 MPC/'98 MA, political science professor, Department of History and Political Science
• Richard M. Jones Award for Teaching Excellence Award to Dr. Lynda Allen '82/'88 MBA, business professor and faculty sponsor for Enactus, Department of Business

The Commencement ceremony for the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies was held at 2:30 p.m. in Centennial Chapel. Dr. John C. Bowling, president of the University, gave the address.

“We’re integrated people,” Dr. Bowling said. “We want to help you succeed as a person. Without character, without virtue, education is hollow.”

Included among the graduates were:
• The first cohort to receive the Master of Science in Nursing: Family Nurse Practitioner (MSN.F) degree
• The first cohort to complete the graduate school’s first fully online course and receive the Master of Arts in Pastoral Leadership degree

Several student and faculty were presented, including:
Willis E. Snowbarger Award for Teaching Excellence presented to Dr. Herbert Ireland, adjunct professor in the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies. This award honors the legacy of Dr. Willis Snowbarger and recognizes the excellence in teaching throughout his time as part of Olivet’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies.
Ralph E. Perry Student Award of Excellence given in memory of Monica Phillips (Chicago Heights, Ill.), who passed away in February, 2013. This award honors the legacy of Dr. Perry’s long career with Olivet and the outstanding work of a student. In addition, she received the Bachelor of Business Administration degree posthumously. Her mother, Barbara Jackson, accepted the award and degree on behalf of her family.

Other Commencement weekend activities included:
• Baccalaureate service in Centennial Chapel, with Dr. John C. Bowling delivering the sermon and charge to the Class of 2013 on the theme “Give Me Jesus.” Emma Reutter (marketing and business administration major, Mason, Mich.) and Blake Swanson (youth ministry major, Gahanna, Ohio) gave the student testimonies.
Installation of two bronze sculptures by internationally renowned Chicago sculptor Richard Hunt at Centennial Chapel
• Social work pinning ceremony (36 graduates), with the Spirit of Social Work Award presented to Sarah Condreay (Shorewood, Ill.) and Whitney (Swick) Means (Bourbonnais, Ill.)
• Nursing pinning ceremony (36 traditional graduates), with the Sigma Theta Tau, Kappa Sigma chapter, Senior Nursing Excellence Award presented to Megan Klossing (Plano, Ill.). Dr. Paul Dillinger '71, who is retiring, received special recognition.
• School of Theology and Christian Ministry graduation chapel service (46 graduates)
• Phi Delta Lambda, Gamma Chapter, induction of 68 new members and Priscilla Skalac '02/'05 MAE, professor in the Department of Physical Sciences, as an honorary member. The Mary Ada Dillinger Service Award was presented to Georgia (English) Merki '09. Ainsley Ports '14 (Christian education major, Kankakee, Ill.) received the chapter’s Enduring Hope Scholarship. Retiring Olivet faculty members Dr. David Atkinson, mathematics professor, and Dr. Dillinger were also honored.
• Military/ROTC commissioning ceremony, commissioning 10 cadets as new second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Guest speaker was Brigadier General John Hanley. 

Watch the Baccalaureate Service here.

Watch the 100th Commencement Convocation for undergraduates here

Watch the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies Commencement here.