GRANVILLE, Ohio -- Members of the Class of 2004 spent four glorious summer-like days during their last week at Denison, with an outdoor reception at Monomoy Place, a barbecue at Lamson Lodge, a full-house event at Brew's Cafe in Granville, bowling in Newark and a senior brunch in the President's Dining Room in Huffman Hall. With hundreds attending every event, they seemed to be squeezing each outing for some final memories of their Denison years, with the culmination being Baccalaureate and Commencement on the weekend.
The Denison flag waved jauntily at the top of the Academic Quadrangle flagpole early on Sunday morning, signaling an outdoor Commencement ceremony at the Fine Arts Quadrangle at 12:30 p.m. At 10 a.m., seniors and their families gathered for a final time on the Academic Quad as faculty from the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities divisions of the college gathered for an informal outdoor get-together for coffee and pastries. Seniors posed with their favorite professors as proud parents met some of their children's beloved mentors.
By late morning, the graduates-to-be gathered on the lawn next to Swasey Chapel to don their robes and assemble for the march down the stairs past Doane Administration and Davis Plaza to Burke Hall where the brightly robed faculty waited to welcome and applaud them. Co-presidents Jeryl Hayes and Danielle Vagnone carried the 2004 class banner and led the seniors to their seats in front of the 5,000 people at the ceremony, as they marched to original fanfares written by Music Professors Ching-Chu Hu and Andrew Glendening and processional music by George Frideric Handel.
J. Martin Erbaugh, member of the Denison Board of Trustees and the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, greeted the audience at Denison's 163rd annual Commencement and welcomed the seniors to the Society of the Alumni. President Knobel's welcome reminded the graduates of the enormity of the changes that had taken place during their four years "on the hill," mentioning the completion of the Campus Common and its attendant Burton D. Morgan and Samson Talbot buildings, the new Sunset residential buildings, the additional numbers of the faculty and the consecutive NCAC All-Sports trophies garnered by Denison's varsity athletes.
Erin Copple, senior class speaker, talked about "Hallmarks of the Denison Experience," as she speculated what she and her classmates will be reminiscing about when they return for their 60th reunion in 2064. Class Co-presidents Jeryl Hayes and Danielle Vagnone presented the Senior Class gift of $7,541 that represented the highest participation level in recent Denison history.
Newly elected Chair of the Faculty Todd Feil recognized faculty retirees Jon R. Farris, Professor Emeritus of Theatre and Jonathan R. Reynolds Distinguished Professor; Associate Professor Emerita of Religion and Women's Studies Joan M. Novak; and Professor Emeritus of Cinema R. Elliott Stout who have collectively given 86 years of service to Denison. Professor of English and holder of the Thomas B. Fordham Chair in Creative Writing David Baker presented Pamela L. Houston, '83, prolific author, professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of California - Davis, for a Doctor of Humane Letters. Professor of Economics and Bank One Chair of Economics Robin Bartlett presented John R. Meyer '67, president and CEO of Harvard Management Co., Inc., for a Doctor of Social Sciences. Associate Professor and Chair of the Political Science department Andrew Katz presented Michael H. Armacost, internationally recognized scholar, statesman and former ambassador to the Philippines and Japan, for a Doctor of Laws degree. He, in turn, presented the Commencement address.
Dr. Armacost's speech to the graduates, "Gratuitous Advice," spoke to the many ways they could use the knowledge they had gained during their four years at Denison to make the world a better place and to live up to their potential.
Provost David R. Anderson then recited the name of each of the 514 graduates, complete with the special honors they had achieved. He awarded 515 degrees -- four Bachelor of Fine Arts, 71 Bachelor of Science and 439 Bachelor of Arts degrees. Leia Van Booven earned both B.S. and B.A. degrees. Nineteen students graduated in absentia, but the 495 others marched across the stage to be congratulated by President Knobel and handed their diplomas. Those who had received academic honors (Summa Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude, and Cum Laude) wore gold, silver or red shoulder cords respectively, to indicate their accomplishments. Presidents Medalists wore gold medals given in honor of their selection and members of the Honors Program could be recognized by their bronze medals. The valedictorian for the class was Elizabeth Ehret who will be continuing her study of mathematics at Ohio State University with a five-year research fellowship. Salutatorians were Allison Cartmell, Jon Ellison and Anthony Fressola.
After listening to President Knobel's Charge to the Class, the graduates joined the Denison Chamber Singers in singing "To Denison," and then threw their caps into the air in celebration of their mission accomplished and new status as Denison University alumni.