Methodist University will celebrate its 54th annual Spring Commencement Ceremony Saturday, May 6, 2017 at 2 p.m. in the March F. Riddle Center. There are currently 285 candidates for graduation.
James Daniel “Danny” Highsmith, Sr., regional vice president and market manager at Beasley Broadcast Group in Fayetteville, will deliver the commencement address. The University will present the University Medallion to Mrs. Naoma W. and Dr. Gerald Ellison, longtime supporters of Methodist University.
The ceremony will also include the commissioning of four ROTC cadets and a speech by this year’s Distinguished Graduate, Peter Wildeboer, who was elected by the graduating seniors.
One student will also be presented with the Lucius Stacy Weaver Award. The award was established in 1964 by the family of Dr. L. Stacy Weaver to honor Methodist University’s first President. It is an engraved plaque presented to an outstanding member of each graduating class for academic excellence, spiritual development, leadership and service.
Following the MU tradition for students who are the first MU graduate from their country, there will be a presentation of the flags of Egypt by Abanob Salib, Hungary by Daniel Sasfy and Iraq by Raya Alher.
Prior to the commencement ceremony, the Rev. Tiffany Knowlin, an Elder in Full Connection in The United Methodist Church and pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Columbia, S.C, will deliver the baccalaureate sermon at 10:30 a.m. in Huff Concert Hall.
Highsmith began as a sportscaster at Beasley in 1971. His role within the company has grown over the years and he now holds the title of regional vice president for Beasley’s Fayetteville cluster of stations. Highsmith is a graduate of Fayetteville Senior High School and received his bachelor’s degree from Campbell College in 1965.
Naoma W. and Dr. Gerald Ellison
Naoma W. and Dr. Gerald Ellison have supported the Methodist University and Fayetteville arts programs for several years. The couple has promoted the visual arts on the campus of Methodist University, beginning with a donation to the David McCune International Art Gallery’s building fund. They continue to sponsor all of the major exhibitions showcased in the gallery. Mrs. Ellison earned a degree from Concord College and now serves on the gallery’s board. Dr. Ellison earned degrees from American and George Washington Universities and retired from Carolina Regional Radiology in 2003.
Prior to graduation, a Baccalaureate Service will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Huff Concert Hall, where the Rev. Knowlin will deliver the baccalaureate sermon. Knowlin is an Elder in Full Connection in The United Methodist Church. She was the first African American and the first female to serve the historic College Place United Methodist Church in Columbia, S.C. She is a graduate of Candler School of theology at Emory University with degrees in Theology and Urban Policy.