Methodist University will celebrate its 44th annual Winter Commencement Ceremony Saturday, December 17, 2016, at 2 p.m. in the March F. Riddle Center. There are currently 198 candidates for graduation.
Lieutenant General Nadja Y. West, 44th surgeon general of the U.S. Army and commanding general, U.S. Army Medical Command, will deliver the commencement address. The University will present honorary degrees to Sharon and Ron Matthews, longtime supporters of Methodist University.
The ceremony will also include the commissioning of one ROTC cadet, the presentation of the Sam R. Edwards Award, and a speech by this year’s Distinguished Graduate, who will be elected by the graduating seniors. The Sam R. Edwards Award is given each winter to a graduating evening student in recognition of his/her academic excellence, spiritual development, and community service. Following the MU tradition for a student who is the first MU graduate from his or her country, there will be a presentation of the flag of Angola from student Joao Graciano.
Prior to the commencement ceremony, the Rev. Dr. Matthew W. Charlton, assistant general secretary of The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, will deliver the baccalaureate sermon at 10:30 a.m. in Huff Concert Hall.
Lt. Gen. West previously served in numerous positions in the Army’s healthcare systems, in stations all over the world including Fort Campbell, Ky.; Heidelberg, Germany; the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia and Kosovo; and Seoul, Republic of Korea. She has also been the joint staff surgeon at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and the commander of Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg.
West graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in engineering and is the institution’s highest-ranking female general. She later earned a Master of Science in national security strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C., and a Doctor of Medicine from the George Washington School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.
She is a member of the Order of Military Medical Merit and has earned more than 11 individual awards and various campaign medals.
Sharon and Ron Matthews
The Matthews have been strong supporters of Methodist University for many years. The two previously owned Family Foods, Inc., which operated a number of Taco Bell franchises, and now own Family Futures, Inc., a development real estate company. Ron Matthews is an active member of the Methodist University Board of Trustees who has served as a member of the National Campaign Committee and the Executive Committee and as chair of the Development and Church Relations Committees.
The Matthews recently made a transformative gift to the University that provided the naming gift for the Sharon and Ron Matthews Ministry Center. There will be a formal groundbreaking for this project on Friday, Dec. 16, at 4 p.m. on the plaza of the Reeves Fine Arts Building.
Prior to graduation, a Baccalaureate Service will take place at 10:30 a.m. in Huff Concert Hall, where the Rev. Charlton will deliver the baccalaureate sermon. Charlton is the assistant general secretary for Collegiate Ministries for The United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville, Tenn. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University, a Master of Divinity and a Master of Arts in Religion from Vanderbilt University, and a doctorate from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.