Methodist University will celebrate its 52nd annual Spring Commencement Ceremony Saturday, May 9, at 2 p.m. in the March F. Riddle Center on the University’s campus. There are currently 215 candidates for graduation.
The 2015 Spring Commencement Distinguished Graduate is Jessica Swartz. She was among the top students in the graduating class and was chosen for this honor by her fellow graduates. She is receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and will give remarks at the Commencement Ceremony.
Two flags will be presented to the University from graduates who are the first to graduate Methodist University from their country. Students from Ethiopia and Yemen will present flags, which will be on display at Commencement and will hang permanently in the Berns Student Center. There will also be eight graduates receiving their commission as second lieutenants into the U.S. Army.
Judy Woodruff, co-anchor and managing editor at PBS NewsHour, will deliver the commencement address. During the ceremony, the University will present Woodruff with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
The University will also present the University Medallion to Eleanor B. Manning, a longtime Fayetteville resident, community leader, and volunteer.
“The presence of Judy Woodruff as Commencement speaker and the recognition of Eleanor Manning for her community involvement provide an opportunity for us to celebrate living examples of excellence,” said MU President Ben Hancock. “While their stories are different, both of these women are wonderful role models for our graduates. We are fortunate to have them on our campus, providing further demonstration of our commitment to excellence as a University, bringing noted individuals to share their stories with our community.”
Prior to the commencement ceremony, the Rev. Dr. Jerry Jackson will deliver the baccalaureate sermon at 10:30 a.m. in Huff Concert Hall.
Woodruff has been covering politics and other news for more than three decades at CNN, NBC, and PBS. A graduate of Duke University, she worked as a White House correspondent for NBC News from 1977-1982, and wrote “This is Judy Woodruff at the White House.” In 1983, she began her career at PBS as the chief Washington correspondent for “The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour,” and went on to anchor PBS’ award-winning documentary series, “Frontline with Judy Woodruff” from 1984-1990. She also served as anchor and senior correspondent for CNN for 12 years.
Woodruff is a founding co-chair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in communication industries worldwide. She is the recipient of many awards and recognitions, including the Cine Lifetime Achievement award, a Duke Distinguished Alumni award, and the Edward R. Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Broadcast Journalism/Television. Woodruff lives in Washington, DC, with her husband, journalist Al Hunt. They are the parents of three children: Jeffrey, Benjamin, and Lauren.
During the ceremony, the University Medallion will be presented to Eleanor Boone Manning. Originally from Kinston, after her marriage she moved with her husband, the late Raymond Manning, to Fayetteville, and in 1948, they began Southeastern Hospital Supply. The business grew and flourished, counting medical centers such as Duke University Medical Center and North Carolina Baptist Hospital as customers. In 1994, the business was sold to Bergen Brunswig Corporation. In addition to her work with the family business, she has been very active in the Fayetteville community. She gave time and resources to Contact, Fayetteville Urban Ministry, Habitat for Humanity, the CARE Clinic, Operation Inasmuch, Center for Economic Empowerment and Development (CEED), Cumberland Community Foundation, Cape Fear Botanical Garden, and the North Carolina History Center, in addition to Methodist University. The Mannings have two children, Ray Manning, Jr., and Carol Manning Short; six grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren. She attends First Christian Church, of which she is a founding member.
Prior to graduation, a Baccalaureate Service will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Huff Concert Hall. The Rev. Dr. Jerry Jackson ’75 will deliver the baccalaureate sermon. Jackson is the pastor of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Rocky Mount. He is an MU alumnus and president of the Alumni Association.