GRANVILLE, Ohio - During the second week of May 2005, the weather gods in Granville presented temperatures suitable for winter or summer with plenty of rain mixed in. But on the most important day of all -- Sunday, May 15 -- they smiled on the members of Denison's Class of 2005 with seasonable temperatures and blue skies to crown a glorious outdoor commencement ceremony.
The seniors had plenty of activities scheduled for their final days at Denison, starting with a President's Reception on Monomoy Lawn on Tuesday afternoon and Club Night in the Roost that evening featuring the same DJ who played for the Slayter Sizzle during their first-year year August Orientation back in 2001. A Kickball Tournament pitting dorms against dorms was held on Wednesday afternoon, with an evening road trip to Easton Town Center in Columbus. Thursday featured a beach party at Lamson Lodge with a DJ and sand volleyball, while Friday the graduates attended a senior brunch in the Presidential Dining Room in Huffman Hall. Later in the day, relatives of graduates began arriving from far and near to savor the special weekend.
On Saturday afternoon, Swasey Chapel was filled to capacity for duplicate Baccalaureate services at 1:30 and 4 p.m. as the audiences took part in celebrations of the graduates that reflected the many religious and spiritual traditions that are part of Denison. Flowers at the center of the stage were in memory of classmate Traci Louise Prince Williams '05. Timothy Fields, Choir Master Organist at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, played the prelude and pianist Brandon Ringler '05 presented "Variations on Pachelbel's Canon." As the Denison singers chanted, liturgical dancers Anusha Jogi '05 and Halle Thompson '07 swayed down the aisles and Ishani Banerji '06 and Emily Culp '05 flew multi-hued spirit kites. President Dale T. Knobel and Provost David R. Anderson welcomed the members of the audience who responded enthusiastically as they raised their voices in "Hymn to Joy." Student readers representing world religious traditions included seniors Isatu Bah, Rebeca Bell, Alma Fellows, Julia Grawemeyer, Andrew MacFarland, Gretchen Roeck, Aram Rosenberg and Emily Teitelbaum. Sean Whelan'06 played the flute and singing bowl. Percussionists for the service were Ryan Jewell and Zak O'Day. The Denison Chamber Singers, under the direction of Affiliated Studio Instructor of Music Kevin Wines, presented the anthem, "Hatikva." The Baccalaureate Address, "The Depth of Life," by University Chaplain Mark R. Orten reflected on a sermon from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that the complete life is the recognition of what is of most value, what is of greatest worth and what is worth due veneration and industry. The audience joined in song once again with "O How Glorious, Full of Wonder," and the Denison Singers gave the Choral Sending Forth "Come Sunday." Attendees of both the early and later services enjoyed the President's Reception from 2:30 to 4 p.m., held in the Burton D. Morgan Center because of the rainy weather.
Much to the relief of students, families, faculty and administrators, Sunday morning dawned clear and a bit cool, and the flag flew at full staff on the Academic Quad, signaling an outdoor Commencement ceremony downhill on the Fine Arts Quadrangle. Graduates, their parents and faculty members representing the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities divisions of the college gathered in front of William Howard Doane Library at 10:30 for the traditional Faculty Coffee, to reminisce about the four years that had passed so quickly and talk of plans for the future. By 11:45, the graduates were milling around the lawn next to Swasey, adjusting caps and gown, posing for pictures and preparing for their march down the stairs past Doane Administration and the Davis Plaza. Led by co-governors Kristin Abbas and Rebeca Bell, the graduates streamed down the stairs in double file, arranged according to the degrees they were to receive, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts. To the accompaniment of a brass ensemble directed by Assistant Professor of Music Andrew Carlson, they walked through a double column of applauding faculty attired in colorful academic regalia. The processional music included an original fanfare for the Class of 2005 written by Assistant Professor of Music Ching-Chu Hu and selections from George Frideric Handel.
Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees R. Scott Trumbull '70 welcomed the class as new members of the Denison University Society of the Alumni and President Knobel reminded them of two new special traditions that have been initiated during their final year at Denison: first, the ringing of the historic nickel-silver college bell that was originally constructed in the mid-1850s to hang in Marsh Hall, Denison's first brick building. The bell, with its new yoke and platform, will move from a display case in Doane Library to the stage where it will ring in the incoming class in August and ring out the graduates in May. The second tradition is the carrying of an academic mace by the chair of the faculty or faculty marshal. The mace, made of walnut and silver, was designed and crafted by Iowa folk artist Harley Refsal and commissioned this year by the president as a visible reminder of the long history of learning at the college.
President Knobel reminded the students about some of the changes that have taken place at Denison during their four-year tenure: electronic classrooms and full internet connections in the residence halls; completion and dedication of the Campus Common, flanked by the Burton Morgan Center and Samson Talbot Hall of Biological Science; the construction of two more apartment-style halls named Elm and Maple that will open this fall; retirements of senior professors and addition of nearly 40 new faculty members; and the expected eighth consecutive North Coast Athletic Conference All-Sports trophy this spring.
Senior Class Speaker Gretchen Roeck used a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon to frame her talk "Stopping the Wagon." She reminded her classmates that they, like the cartoon characters, are faced with many difficult and complex issues and may feel as if they are in a wagon that is headed downhill and out of control. However, armed with the gift of knowledge, they have both the capacity and the responsibility to share their gifts and stand up for justice. Co-governors Kristin Abbas and Rebeca Bell announced a record 41 percent class participation for a Senior Class Gift of $7,190 that included a generous match from the Alumni Council. The funds will be directed to the general Denison Scholarship Fund.
Chair of the Faculty recognized retiring faculty members Professor Emeritus of Art George Bogdanovitch, Professor Emerita of Music Marjorie Chan, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy David Goldblatt, Henry Chisholm Chair in Natural Sciences and Professor Emerita of Psychology Rita Snyder and Professor Emeritus of Political Science Jules Steinberg who have collectively given 171 years of service to Denison.
Dr. Margaret S. Terpening '74, Associate Professor of Internal Medicine - Geriatrics at University of Michigan, presented Dr. Margaret L. Stuber '75, Professor in Residence and Jane and Marc Nathanson Chair of Psychiatry at UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, for an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Dr. Stuber is a prolific author, accomplished teacher and mentor and the recipient of numerous awards for her efforts in the psychiatric care of children with cancer and their families. Chair of the Denison Board of Trustees Mark F. Dalton '72 presented David B. Waller '70, Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, for an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. A past member of Denison's Board of Trustees and president of the Alumni Council, Waller serves as vice-chair of the United Nations system-wide High Level Committee on Management, reporting to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
Waller's Commencement Address, "Global Bookends and Beyond," focused on the monumental world events that began and ended the graduates' years at Denison: the horror of the terrorism of September 11, 2001 and its aftermath, and the devastation of December 2004 with the Indian Ocean tsunami. He reminded the graduates that the greater world has an enormous impact on their lives and advised them to be proud participants of their generation and embrace both the opportunities and the challenges of the world they inherited.
Provost David R. Anderson then recited the names of each of the 446 graduates, complete with the special honors they had received. He awarded six Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees, 57 Bachelor of Science Degrees and 383 Bachelor of Arts degrees. Fifteen students graduated in absentia, but 431 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. President's Medalists wore gold medals and 35 graduates of the Honors Program displayed bronze medals. Twenty-seven Phi Beta Kappa members could be recognized by their white and gold medals. Provost Anderson congratulated valedictorian Susanne Winkler and co-salutatorians Ryan Brenn and Benjamin Wagner.
After listening to President Knobel's Charge to the Class, the graduates joined the senior Denison Chamber Singers and audience in the familiar alma mater, "To Denison," and then threw their mortar boards into the air in celebration of their mission accomplished and new status as Denison alumni.