Tag Archives: Spring Commencement

Rear Adm. Vince Griffith (81C) addresses spring graduates.It’s only fitting that a speaker well versed in logistics – Rear Adm. Vince Griffith (81C) – was on hand for the largest spring commencement ceremony in Berry history. A record total of 473 undergraduate and graduate students completed their degree requirements this spring. Joining them in the tidal wave of black robes sweeping across the Evans Hall lawn on May 6 were other newly minted alumni who finished their coursework in August or December, pushing the total number of participants to more than 500.

In his remarks, the decorated U.S. Navy officer shared insight gleaned during his own life journey, which has carried him from humble beginnings growing up on a farm in Rockmart, Ga., to his current role as director of DLA (Defense Logistics Agency) logistics operations with responsibilities around the globe. The Berry trustee – described as a “regular guy” by classmates – stressed the importance of perseverance, character and relationships, challenging the new alumni to “try to be just a little better” every day. He also emphasized the value of hard work, recalling his rise to student supervisor of the grounds crew for the House o’ Dreams.

“While I doubt many of you will have to lead an attack in Iraq or face the Taliban, you will have your own challenges – dealing with a demanding boss, trying to manage your peers or getting a new business off the ground,” he stated. “Berry College has prepared you to face any of these trials, and you will be successful.”

Click here for more coverage, including photos from the ceremony and statistical highlights of the 2017 class.

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Scott Colley PortraitA voice from Berry’s past offered insight for the future during the largest spring commencement ceremony in college history. Addressing approximately 470 graduates and a huge crowd of family and friends gathered on the Evans Hall lawn, former president and honorary alumnus J. Scott Colley praised Berry’s current leadership and stressed the continuing relevance of the college’s “head, heart and hands” approach to education in today’s uncertain times.

Harking back to his own upbringing in the shadow of World War II, the Cold War and segregation in his native Virginia, Colley noted, “The world was wobbling in those days, and you know what? It wobbles still. Moments of crisis and threat are the very times to use our brains and to employ our learning. Such times are hardly occasions for us to take leave of our senses. … My hope is that our graduates will employ what they’ve already learned at Berry in both the near and long terms as they respond to the obligations of citizenship.”

During his visit, Berry’s seventh president was honored with the unveiling of a portrait of him standing in the Ford Archway that will hang in Memorial Library. He also learned that a scholarship has been endowed in his name by three Berry vice presidents he mentored during his presidency – Debbie Heida, Bettyann O’Neill and Dr. Kathy Richardson.

Additional coverage: Commencement photo gallery

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Spring CommencementThe largest class in Berry history – 425 strong – celebrated the past and looked to the future during spring commencement exercises in the Cage Center. Roxanne Spillett, former president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and newly appointed member of the Berry College Board of Trustees, addressed the graduates and their families, who gathered indoors due to inclement weather in the area. The student speaker was Josh Hughes, a chemistry major and aspiring professional soccer player who graduated with a 4.0 GPA. The ceremony featured the presentation of two faculty honors, the Mary S. and Samuel Poe Carden Award for Outstanding Teaching, Scholarship and Service to Associate Professor of History Matthew Stanard and the Dave and Lu Garrett Award for Meritorious Teaching to Associate Professor of Bioanalytical Chemistry Alice Suroviec. Commencement video.

Among the many notable graduates was Madison Chandler, a biochemistry major who gained acceptance into five different biomedical engineering programs before choosing Auburn University, where she will have the opportunity to conduct genetics research related to breast cancer. Read story.

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The largest graduating class in Berry history – 381 strong – welcomed longtime friend and college supporter Audrey Morgan as an honorary member at spring commencement. She joins Martha Berry among the 17 notable individuals who have been presented with an honorary doctorate from Berry since 1933.

Audrey, whose name graces one of the college’s newest residence halls, has demonstrated her commitment to Berry as a member of the Board of Visitors and through her tremendous generosity (more than $6.6 million in lifetime gifts). She helped launch the Gate of Opportunity Scholarship in 2009 and has continued her enthusiastic support of the program in subsequent years. Details of her latest “gift of opportunity” were reported in a recent Berry magazine article.

In his introduction, President Steve Briggs stated, “Audrey’s Gate of Opportunity Scholarships have already changed the lives of dozens of students – and those students, in turn, are becoming agents of improvement. Audrey’s vision is also inspiring others to participate in this remarkable program. Her own gifts will soon fund more than 35 Gate of Opportunity Scholars each year. Her commitment to this program prompted another longtime friend of the college to establish a $10 million dollar matching fund that will result in a total goal of 130 fully endowed Gate of Opportunity Scholarships in the years to come.

“The end result of her carefully targeted philanthropy is, quite simply, lives and communities that have been changed for the better. In that way, as in many others, she reminds us of our founder, who saw education as a way of transforming not just individual lives, but families and whole communities.”

Audrey took great pride in the honor, noting that “after today, not only can I say, ‘I chose Berry,’ but I can say, ‘Berry chose me!'” She also offered encouragement to the newly minted graduates, telling them, “There are so many needs or opportunities waiting for your help, and all of you, I know, have so much to offer.”

More commencement coverage.

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