College Holds 183rd Commencement for the Class of 2018
By Gauri Mangala, News Editor
For the Gettysburg College’s Class of 2018, the long-awaited day has finally arrived: commencement. Gettysburg’s 183rd commencement represents the culmination of their college careers in which the graduates symbolically exit Pennsylvania Hall through the Beachem Portico, mirroring their entrance during convocation during their first day, marking the end to their undergraduate experience. Hundreds of friends, family, faculty, and staff join to celebrate the hard work of the graduating class.
President Riggs reminded the Class of 2018 of what they have accomplished at Gettysburg, “You have gained skills and confidence in articulating your ideas, you have overcome obstacles, and you have opened yourselves to new ways of thinking.”
“You have engaged in politics and public service, competed on playing fields, participated in and led student organizations, performed on stage, presented your research here on campus and around the world, and helped our community to take steps towards becoming more inclusive. These experiences together have formed your education.”
Provost Christopher Zappe presented the annual Award for Distinguished Teaching to William Bowman, Professor of History and the current holder of the Johnson Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities, “Bill is the kind of professor who goes out of his way to engage students when they are troubled as well whether they are having difficulty in their academic work or social lives or experiencing difficulties at home.”
Morgan Hubbard ‘18, the senior class speaker, spoke about the varying paths that led students to Gettysburg College, and the direction students will follow afterwards, “Higher education is a privilege. Although we are all gathered here today in the same gowns, the path that got us here look very different. For some, growing up, college was an expectation, not an exception. For others, the fight for admission was grueling and was followed by a fight for the security to accept.”
“I am hopeful that we will all part from our student body knowing the value of our degrees, not just for what is written on the paper, but for what is written in our histories. We are unique in our understanding of the history of Gettysburg for more than a battle, but for a long network of people learning and leading progress beyond this town. I hope that we will value Gettysburg for its good and its bad, work to change the latter, and promote the power of education in creating social change, even in times when fear seems our closest companion.”
Co-chairs of the Senior Class Gift Committee, Alison Pollard ‘18 and Edward Hughes Jr. ‘18 announced that the graduating seniors raised $6,381 for the Gettysburg fund and Orange and Blue club.
Jim Chemel ’71, Chair of the Gettysburg College Board of Trustees, presented the Lavern H. Brenneman Award for Exemplary Volunteer Service to Gettysburg College to Robert H. Joseph Jr. ‘69, saying “his selfless dedication to the College is a bright beacon to future generations of Gettysburgians.”
Chemel went on to present three candidates for honorary degrees: Rebecca Stevens Halstead for the degree of Doctor of Military Science, Francisco J. Nunez for the degree of Doctor of Music, and Howard David Fineman for the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
Fineman went on to deliver the keynote speech and spoke about Eisenhower and Lincoln and their association with Gettysburg College, “So what is there about these two men who are associated with Gettysburg and this college and this place that give us hope? They give us guidance. They give us lessons.”
“Abe and Ike were American exceptionalists, deeply so. That was the whole point to them. We owe it to ourselves and the world to merit our gift. You know, we are always going to argue. But we have the freedom of citizenship here in the United States to do so and I would say to all of the foreign students from overseas who are here, if I may say so, and again despite our flaws, what you have seen here at Gettysburg I think is something that is good to take to the rest of the world.”
President Riggs concluded: “Change doesn’t always come easily. You cannot spark change by wishing it upon the world. Rather, you ignite change by giving fully of yourself to something greater. And by inspiring others to do the same. Every one of you has the power and the potential to make a difference.”