By Joan C. McKinney, director, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – Dr. H. Keith Spears, the 11th president of Campbellsville University, told the 933 candidates for graduation Friday, Dec. 10 they are not the same person who arrived at the university four years ago, and he charged the “new person in each of them to do three things.”
He told them to “reflect on your alma mater the good things that you have learned. Be a good emissary for Campbellsville University and carry its mantle well.”
He urged each graduate to look at the great seal of Campbellsville University that has an equilateral triangle fortified with fellowship, leadership and scholarship – elements that can fortify all of us, he said.
He said fellowship is for harmony and respect for others, leadership is to take others to a higher destiny and scholarship is to be committed to lifelong learning.
And he urged the graduates to do something unexpected.
“Something that no one you know would have an inkling that you would do,” Spears said. “Climb a mountain. Drive a race car. Jump out of an airplane (with a parachute). Cash in your last bit of student aid and take a mission trip to the ends of the earth like Uzbekistan.
“Do something that signifies that you can take on this world, do it well and make your mark.”
There were four ceremonies in Ransdell Chapel for the 933 candidates for graduation that made 2,650 graduates for May, August and December for the 2020-21 academic year. The students receive their degrees on the recommendation of the faculty and the approval of the Board of Trustees.
At the first ceremony of the day, Spears was surprised as Henry Lee, chair of the Board of Trustees, presented him a framed copy of the board’s resolution naming him the 11th president of Campbellsville University. Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, gave a gold presidential medallion Lee presented to Spears.
Lee said Spears had served as interim president and then president, and he was the right person to lead the university at this time in her history.
Spears presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Savannah Gregory Ramos of Scottsville, Ky., a 2021 graduate, for the student award.
Campbellsville University was selected in 2002 to participate in this prestigious awards program that honors the memory and legacy of the late Algernon Sydney Sullivan. There are only 70 colleges and universities that are approved by the Sullivan Foundation to annually present these awards to one graduating senior and to one community member.
Sullivan was a lawyer, devout Christian, mediator, powerful and appealing orator, a courageous citizen during perilous times, a noted philanthropist and a devoted family man.
In the words of a friend, Sullivan “reached out both hands in constant helpfulness to others.”
In 1890, three years after his death, a memorial committee was formed. Former President Grover Cleveland was among the group’s members. They charged themselves with keeping alive the attributes demonstrated by Sullivan.
The original group passed along the task to the New York Southern Society, which later passed on the torch of remembering Sullivan’s ideals to the Sullivan Foundation formed in 1934.
Ramos received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education P-5 and Special Education, with a minor in Educational Ministries.
While at Campbellsville University, Ramos has been involved in many activities, including being a member of the Lady Tiger Basketball Team and Track team for five years.
She has been hired as a kindergarten math interventionist for Campbellsville Elementary School. She is also coaching middle school and high school girls’ basketball at Campbellsville Independent Schools. She and her husband, Justin, also a Campbellsville University graduate, were married in May.
Karen Goss of Tarpon Springs, Fla., who received a Master of Social Work degree with a Generalist Area of Focus, told her colleagues they had just completed a chapter of their lives, “and it has been a challenging yet exciting and fulfilling venture story.
“We accept the challenge to write our unique stories to be added to the chronicles of the never-ending story of Campbellsville University.”
Kasey Childers Moss of Campbellsville, who received a Master in Management and Leadership degree, said the graduates will “go outside of our comfort zone and do something unexpected.
“We know the world is vast, and there is much to learn by exploring it.”
She said the graduates are not the same as when they started their journey at Campbellsville University.
“We have all grown in ways we never imagined simply through the trials of the past couple of years,” she said. “But what is most important is that we didn’t give up.”
Sydney Rebekah Pinkham of Elizabethtown, Ky., who received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education Primary/5, said, “God called us to be at Campbellsville University for a reason. He knew our plans before we ever did. Campbellsville has provided us a home away from home.
“We have learned how to respect one another. We have developed a greater sense of responsibility. But, most importantly, Campbellsville University taught us how to be servant leaders. This is by far the most valuable lesson that I have learned throughout my college career, and a lesson that I will carry with me forever.”
Taral Patel of Campbellsville, who is from Canada, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in accounting. He said he wanted to get out of Campbellsville for his college experience. His plans changed, and he ended up at Campbellsville, which was “a blessing in disguise.”
He said, “On the first day of classes, I was walking across campus, and I immediately felt at home. The feeling that I am sure many of us get attending CU – the feeling of support, kindness and care toward us, the students.”
Spears said Campbellsville graduates have the lowest debt of any graduating class in Kentucky – any private or state college or university graduating class.
He urged the students to say thank you to those who helped them make it through college.
Co-valedictorians of the December 2021 ceremony, with their degrees listed, were: Madison England of Scottsville, Ky., Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Administration; Whitley Elaine Howlett of Louisville, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art and Design-Graphic Design;
Andrea Necole Issacs of Campbellsville, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting; Jeffrey Steele of Russellville, Ky., Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting; and Brooklyn Elizabeth Vaughn of Dunnville, Ky., Bachelor of Science, General Emphasis.
Marybeth Norris of Louisville, Ky., was salutatorian with a Bachelor of Science, Early Childhood Education.
Ashley Fox, director of alumni relations, welcomed the graduates, on behalf of the Campbellsville University Alumni Association, to a “very proud, loyal and diverse family.” She said they belong to a network of over 19,000 alumni that spans many states and countries.
She urged them to stay connected to their alma mater, to read the alumni magazine, the Campbellsvillian, recruit new students by sharing their positive experiences at Campbellsville University, mentor and support current students who have yet to finish and make a monetary gift.
Dr. Tony Cunha, dean of the School of Music and professor of music, led in the singing of hymns. Dr. Wesley Roberts, professor of music, was the organist. Lee led in prayer in all ceremonies, and Dr. Joseph Early Jr., chair of the Faculty Forum and professor of theology, gave the benediction at all ceremonies.
Spears conferred their degrees upon completion of the requirements for their degrees; Hedgepath read the names of the graduates along with Dr. Nagamani Palla, instructor in computer science and lead professor of BA 500.
To view the ceremonies, visit Campbellsville University’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/campbellsvilleuniversity.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 12,000 students offering over 100 programs of studying including Ph.D., master, baccalaureate, associate, pre-professional and certification programs. The website for complete information is www.campbellsville.edu.