Faculty, staff, members of the Board of Trustees, family members, friends, and Golden Grad representatives joined the 141 graduates receiving undergraduate and graduate degrees on Saturday, May 2, 2015. The Spring 2015 Commencement was also the kickoff of Social Work’s 50th Anniversary.
The ceremony opened with greetings from University President Dr. Todd Williams, congratulating the graduates for their hard work and dedication to pursuing an education that has value. After continuing in prayer, a musical selection by Cairn’s Chorale, and Scripture reading, the procession was led by Golden Grad representatives, and 103 undergraduate and 54 graduate degrees were awarded.
The ceremony continued with President Dr. Williams fondly introducing the Commencement speaker and Alumni Achievement Award recipient, Crawford Loritts. A graduate of the University in 1968, Crawford is currently the senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia.
Crawford began his speech by congratulating the graduates and boldly addressing the idea that “talent and education are overrated.” Crawford supported his statement by proclaiming that it is faithfulness that has true value. He charged the graduates to never lose the passion to go forth in the world, share the gospel, and spur on change, while warning them of two robbers of passion: cynicism and an entitlement mentality.
“As you move up in the ranks, you will make the assumption that you are entitled to recognition,” Crawford asserted. Yet he reminded the graduates that their gifts, talents, and abilities are not about them, but a statement about who God is and how He intends to use them. Crawford warned that when we dwell on what we have accomplished, “gratitude tends to leave us” and that “we must be greater than the positions that we hold.”
Drawing from Colossians 1, Crawford exhorted the graduates to make this passage their central prayer, asking to be “filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9). It is when we live our lives for the divine, acknowledging the will of God, that we will see fruit in our lives. Crawford stated that we will inherit three things when learn to be dependent on God:
1) A triumphant life – We will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord (1:10), saturated with God’s will and divine purpose.
2) A transformation life – We will experience the hope of Christ in the suffering.
3) A thankful life – We will give thanks to the Father (1:12), for He loves us and delivers us from darkness (1:13). Just as our salvation is irremovable, as will be our joy.
Finally, Crawford charged the graduates to look ahead and look to God: “Don’t be afraid to see what God can do.”
Watch the commencement address up top or on Cairn’s YouTube channel.
The ceremony also included the announcement of the new School of Social Work (previously the Department of Social Work). Dr. Williams also announced the appointment of two deans: Dr. Lloyd Gestoso (from chair of the Department of Social Work to dean of the School of Social Work) and Dr. Brenda Mellon Ebersole (from interim dean to dean in the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences). There were four additional faculty rank promotions, effective for the 2015–16 academic year:
- Dr. Juliet Campbell-Farrell (from associate professor to professor),
- Dr. Janet Tyler (from associate professor to professor),
- Yunn Kang (from assistant professor to associate professor), and
- Dr. Brenda Mellon Ebersole (from assistant professor to associate professor).