On Saturday, December 19, 2015, 83 students graduated in Cairn University’s fall commencement ceremony. Students earned degrees through traditional undergraduate, dual-level, degree completion, and graduate programs.
The ceremony was kicked off with the academic procession, a continuing medieval tradition in which Cairn faculty and administration enter the Mason Activity Center dressed in traditional gowns and hoods signifying their area of study. Following the applause and cheer was a welcome greeting and prayer from University President Dr. Todd Williams. He also acknowledged this year’s Alumni Recognition Award winners: Dr. Janet E. Furness ’70. Rev. John L. Crans ’72, and Troy L. Brindle ’93.
Continuing with a musical selection by Cairn’s Chamber Singers and Scripture reading by Carlos Enrique Matos (Candidate for BS in Bible), 66 undergraduate and 22 graduate degrees were awarded. After a prayer of dedication by Dr. Jonathan Master and the singing of the senior hymn, “Be Thou My Vision,” Dr. Williams introduced Dr. Ralph Eckardt and invited him to deliver the commencement speech.
As this year is the 50th anniversary of Cairn’s social work program, Dr. Ralph Eckardt was an appropriate guest speaker for the 2015 fall commencement. A 1960 graduate of the University, Ralph pursued further studies at the University of Pennsylvania, graduating with a MSW in 1968 and DSW in 1974. He served as a professor at Cairn University from 1970 to 1979 and was the first full-time faculty member to join professor and chairman Charles Furness after the 1965 founding of the University’s Bible Social Work program. Previously, he was the executive director of Interserve USA, an organization that is dedicated to transforming lives and communities through encounters with Jesus Christ. He is currently a mission consultant for Interserve USA, as well as a licensed social worker and counselor.
Ralph began his address with humorous stories of his own commencement memories, including a ceremony in which his name was not called to receive a diploma. He went on to recall the founding of the University’s Bible Social Work program, a time in which the Bible and the field of social work were mutually exclusive. Drawing from The Good Samaritan parable in Luke 10, John 3:16, and 1 John 3:16, Ralph challenged the graduates to constantly examine their relationships with their neighbors in light of their relationship with Christ.
As is typical for decades of Cairn commencements, the ceremony ended with all present invited to sing the University hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Congratulations to all of the Fall 2015 graduates! Merry Christmas!