By Joan C. McKinney, director of university communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “Because I cannot add years to my life, I want to add life to my years. If I am not able to do anything about the length of my life, I can do something about its breadth and depth,” Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, 92, chancellor at the University of Richmond in Virginia told Campbellsville University graduates in his commencement address Saturday, May 12.
“The most important day in an institution is commencement. This is one of those days you will always remember. My heart is full of thankfulness and humbled by your accomplishments. We are very proud of you,” Dr. Michael V. Carter, in his 19th year as president, told 700 students, a record, in four ceremonies on May 11 and 12. Also, a record number of 1,013 students graduated during the 2017-18 academic year.
Carter said Campbellsville University has also set a record enrollment of more than 10,000 students, and students graduating from CU have the lowest student debt of any public or private institution in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Celebrating this most important day in the life of the university was Heilman, a 1949 graduate of Campbellsville Junior College who is a long-time serving member of the university’s Board of Trustees. He was celebrating his 70th year anniversary of his graduating from the junior college.
Heilman is also chancellor of the University of Richmond in Virginia and has devoted 66 years of his life to higher education, 22 years of which he served as a college or university president.
He was presented a plaque in recognition for his Distinguished Service and Philanthropy.
Heilman addressed the undergraduates in two ceremonies Saturday, May 12; he presented his grandson, Nicholas Gerhard van der Meer, an associate of science degree in the second ceremony. A granddaughter, Corey Heilman, graduated from CU in 2007.
In the morning ceremony Saturday, Heilman spoke of his advanced age of 92 and being a spokesman for The Greatest Generation. “I likely will be the last one this university will ever have from World War II, and you caught me just in time,” he laughed.
As Katherine Mumaw Nally of Louisville, who is 88, received her bachelor of science degree in liberal arts and science, Heilman rose from his chair and helped her up the stairs to the stage.
Nally was recently recognized by Courier Journal newspaper in Louisville as its Mother of the Year.
Heilman, who has spent his last 20 years doing things that haven’t been done before at his age, has traveled 100,000 miles to all 50 states, working with the Gold Star Families who have lost loved ones in battle. Since graduating in 1949, he has traveled to 145 countries.
“I have done things unusual for my age by using my motorcycle as a means of attracting attention so I may share the message,” he said.
He said he has continued to live a “healthy life, strong physically, alert mentally and feeling worthwhile in the depth of my spirit.”
“I suggest to you, while you are very young, that you will enjoy life just as much if you can live to my age rather than to presume that at some point, beyond 50, life is not worth living,” he told the graduates.
“That is a mistake. Life is great at 92. I am interacting with young people, watching you emerge like the butterfly from the cocoon, strengthening your wings and moving out to experience the world as I have these many years,” he said.
He urged the graduates to “carry with you that which will make a difference in your life.”
He ended his speech, “Making the Most of Yourselves,” with a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “Make the most of yourself because that is all there is of you.”
Heilman said, “And, because the world steps aside to let those pass who know where they are going, let me be the first to get out of your way.”
He received a standing ovation, and many graduates, on their way to receive their diploma, stopped to shake his hand.
At the noon ceremony, he spoke of the life of a university president and all that goes into being one. He said he told an employee once to “do what’s right” in a situation. “That’s a philosophy of the president, which is in the minds and hearts of many people,” he said.
Heilman, as a member of the Marine Corps, served in the South Pacific and Japan during World War II and struggled through the Great Depression.
Heilman has left a legacy at Campbellsville University, in which the president’s home is named the Betty Dobbins Heilman House, in honor of his late wife, who graduated in 1948 from Campbellsville Junior College.
Ground was broken April 24 for the new Betty Dobbins Heilman Wellness Center, and the university hopes to break ground soon on the third building in the E. Bruce Heilman Student Complex. There are two buildings in the complex now – the Winters Dining Hall and the Davenport Student Commons.
Carter, in his charge to the graduates, urged them to love as in the “love” chapter of the Bible in 1 Corinthians. He said, “You might have all of the knowledge in the world, but unless you have love, it is meaningless.” He said we need to bridge the different of cultures and find ways to live together on the planet.
He also urged the graduates to follow leadership, which, he says, is that quality in which a leader takes those around him to a higher level than they thought possible for themselves.
Fellowship, leadership and scholarship are the words on the university’s academic seal.
Four students responded to Carter’s charge. At the first Friday night ceremony, Esther Tsumba, a master of social work graduate from Zimbabwe, said, “Dare to trust God’s plan for your life. Dare to be different from the norm in the world. Dare to be a positive impact and influence to others, and, most of all, dare to embrace who you are and dare to be you.”
David Chewning of Campbellsville, who earned a master in management and leadership, said, “Our minds have been expanded, our souls have been touched and our hearts prepared for service. It is now the responsibility of each one of us to go forth and make a difference in this world.”
In the 9 a.m. Saturday service, Landon Dean Rogers of Harrodsburg, who was named Mr. Campbellsville University and received a bachelor of science in middle grades education 5-9 and social studies, said he wants the graduates to remember three points: 1. Learn from the hard moments in your life; 2. Commit yourself to be a life-long learner, and 3. Be humble and learn from your mistakes and teach others from your mistakes.
Kelli Evans, a bachelor of music graduate in music education, vocal, from Bradfordsville, Ky., said, “Having completed our journey to earn this degree, it is impossible to deny that a small piece of Campbellsville University is coming with us. This piece of CU is now part of our character and will serve as the foundation upon which we pursue all other callings in life.”
Carter and Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the graduates.
Darryl Peavler, a 2003 undergraduate and 2005 graduate student at Campbellsville University, who serves as director of alumni relations, welcomed the students into the Campbellsville University Alumni Association, and told the graduates, “You have achieved one of the greatest milestones in your life thus far.
“Today, you will become part of a tremendous alumni family that reaches around the globe. At 14,000 strong, the Campbellsville University Alumni Association has members in 67 countries and 46 states. We are excited to welcome you and to see where your path leads.”
He urged the graduates to be an ambassadaor for CU, pray for the university and give to insure the next generation of Tigers and future members of the Alumni Association receive a top quality education at a very affordable rate.
Co-valedictorians for May 2018 were Sharon Ann Bach of Raywick, Ky.;
Madison Rae Daulton of Somerset, Ky.; Rebecca Lynn Miller of Louisville, Ky.; Seito Miyazaki of Japan; Taylor Diane Ohlmann of Louisville, Ky.; Karey Brooklyn Sellers of Liberty, Ky.; Erin Mattie Steele of Campbellsville; Dylan Ray Tungate of Loretto, Ky.; and Lacy Marie Walker of Louisville, Ky.
Salutatorian was Joelle Elizabeth Collett of Harrodsburg, Ky.
Henry Lee of Campbellsville, chair of the Campbellsville University Board of Trustees, gave the invocation at all four ceremonies. Dr. Lisa Allen, associate dean of the School of Education, associate professor of education, and chair of the Faculty Forum, gave the benediction on the Friday ceremonies and the 12 p.m. ceremony on Saturday.
Tim Heilman, director of development at CU and son of Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, gave the benediction at the 9 a.m. ceremony on Saturday.
Dr. Tony Cunha, dean of the School of Music and associate professor of music, led in the singing of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” and “Campbellsville, We Love Thee.”
Dr. Wesley Roberts, professor of music, served as organist, and Dr. Bill Budai, associate dean of the School of Music and associate professor of piano, played piano in the Friday services.
The Campbellsville University Brass Ensemble played the processional and recessional at Saturday’s ceremony.
Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 10,000 students offering over 90 programs of study including 20 master’s degrees, six postgraduate areas and seven pre-professional programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset and Hodgenville with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro, Summersville and Liberty, all in Kentucky, and one in Costa Mesa and the Silicon Valley in California, and a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.