Denison University awarded undergraduate degrees to the 542 members of the Class of 2013, Sunday, May 12, at the 172nd commencement exercises of the college.
An enthusiastic crowd of more than 5,500 family members and friends attended the event, which was held outdoors on fine arts quad of the campus. Chair of the Denison Board of Trustees Tom Hoaglin, Class of 1971, and University President Dale T. Knobel opened the ceremonies by welcoming the graduates and guests.
Melanie Stolp of Durham, N.C. gave the senior class address, "What it really means to be a Big Red Buzzard." She was followed by class co-governors Kasey Hoare, of Crofton, Md., and Shawn Whites of Galion, Ohio, who announced a senior class gift of $8,314 to the Denison Annual Fund, which represented gifts from 65 percent of the class.
Two retiring members of the faculty were recognized by faculty chair Andrew Katz. Professor Todd Feil, of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, has served the college for 31 years, and Associate Professor Lyn Robertson, of the Department of Education and former director of the John C. Alford Center for Service Learning, has given the college 34 years of service.
In recognition of his 15 years of service to the college, Hoaglin conferred an honorary doctorate of humane letters upon President Knobel. During Knobel's presidency, Denison has reached and surpassed important milestones in enrollment and fundraising and has expanded and modernized a number of key facilities. A leading national liberal arts college, Denison has seen an increase in the profile of both its students and faculty. Knobel has been a champion of several causes both on and off campus. He is an ardent proponent of student and faculty diversity, sustainable operations, the advancement of women in higher education, and promotion of the liberal arts.
Following the presentation of his honorary degree, Knobel delivered the Commencement address, "Critical Thinking–Critical Doing." He shared insights about critical thinking, saying that it is "at the heart of making the best art and music and is the very soul of science, serving as the basis for the rigorous assumption-testing of the scientific method." Then he challenged the audience by noting it's not enough to simply think a problem through, but to act upon it. "After being critical thinkers and getting to the bottom of things, can you become critical doers, taking the appropriate, informed steps to answer the question you uncovered, to solve the unsolved problem, to fix the error you've unmasked? It is a relevant question whether you are in scholarly pursuits, in a profession or career, in a household or family, in a society or organization, or in a community."
Provost Bradley Bateman presented members of the class of 2013 with their degrees, beginning with the senior class co-governors and the Presidents Medalists. In total, there were six Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees awarded, 90 Bachelor of Science degrees and 446 Bachelor of Arts degrees. Seven students received dual degrees, that is both a Bachelor of Science and of Arts. Among the graduates, 112 earned Latin honors: 51 cum laude, 45 magna cum laude and 16 summa cum laude. The class co-valedictorians were Ashley Heestand of Lexington, Ohio, and Katharine Waggoner of Maumee, Ohio.
The ceremony concluded with the singing of the college's alma mater, "To Denison," and President Knobel's final Charge to the Class, taken from an overture written by Johannes Brahms, "Long live the academy, long live the professors! Long live each student, long live all the students! May they always flourish! May they always flourish!"
At Denison University, one of the nation's leading liberal arts colleges, motivated students from around the world tailor educational experiences in pursuit of their highest aspirations. Innovative faculty and a completely residential campus provide an integrated learning environment for students to develop as critical thinkers, perceptive moral agents and active citizens in a global community as they prepare for rewarding lives of purpose and impact.