May 12, 2016

During Commencement ceremonies last weekend, Olivet Nazarene University conferred degrees on 1,395 graduates, including those who earned the University’s first-ever Master of Engineering Management degrees.

Olivet’s Class of 2016 includes 598 traditional undergraduate bachelor’s, one associate’s, 159 adult studies bachelor’s, 613 master’s and 24 doctoral degrees. Commencement ceremonies for traditional undergraduate students and those in the University’s School of Graduate and Continuing Studies highlighted a weekend of activity to recognize the accomplishments of Olivet graduates and faculty. 

During the Convocation for Traditional Undergraduates held Saturday morning, May 7, Dr. Suzanne Bell — a 1998 Olivet graduate — addressed the graduates and guests as the featured guest speaker. She is a tenured associate professor of industrial and organizational psychology in the College of Science and Health at DePaul University. In 2015, she and her collaborators were awarded a $1 million grant from NASA to create a predictive team composition model for long-distance space exploration (e.g., Mission to Mars).

“Teamwork is essential for success,” Dr. Bell told the graduates. “My message for you today is simple. Learn how to work well as part of a team. It is a brilliant person who enlists, respects and utilizes the thinking and talents of others in order to end up with a product that is far beyond the limits of a lone person’s abilities.”

An honorary Doctor of Letters degree was conferred upon Jerry Hammes of South Bend, Indiana. He is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and longtime supporter of the University. 

Twelve students who earned bachelor’s degrees had the distinction of being Honors Program graduates. They are:
Abigail Allen, a nursing major from Martinsville, Indiana
Sarah Anderson, an English major from Frankfort, Illinois
Madeline Bloom, a music ministry and Spanish major, from Eden Prairie, Minnesota
Collin Brown, a biology major from LaFontaine, Indiana
Barbara Budach, a nursing major from Woodridge, Illinois
Samuel Cullado, a multimedia studies major, now living in Studio City, California
Austin Fischer, an accounting major from Olathe, Kansas
Caleb Gulledge, a biology major from Bourbonnais, Illinois 
Lindsay Morr, an exercise science major from Bloomington, Illinois
Garrett Muhlstadt, an engineering major with a mechanical engineering concentration (also a pre-med concentration) from Kankakee, Illinois
Jacob Ruetz, a business management major from Noblesville, Indiana
Justine Von Arb, an English major from Lisle, Illinois

Highlights of undergraduate Commencement included:
• Maggie Sloan Crawford Award for outstanding female graduate to Justine Von Arb
• Robert M. Milner Award for outstanding male graduate to Caleb Gulledge
• Samuel L. Mayhugh Award for Scholarly Excellence to Dr. Leo Finkenbinder, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, School of Life and Health Sciences
• Richard M. Jones Award for Teaching Excellence to Dr. Craig Bishop, professor in the Department of Social Work and Criminal Justice, School of Life and Health Sciences

School of Graduate and Continuing Studies

In a Saturday afternoon ceremony, Dr. John C. Bowling, president of the University, addressed those receiving degrees from the Olivet School of Graduate and Continuing Studies (SGCS): “Our character is our God-given, internal umpire. It is a person’s essential self. In the end, all education should seek to develop men and women of character.”

Included among the 796 advanced-degree graduates were:
• First cohort of three graduates from Olivet’s Master of Engineering Management degree program
Doctor of Education: Ethical Leadership degree program graduate Patricia Lynn Starks Howard, whose son, Wesley Taylor, received his Bachelor of Science degree in the morning undergraduate ceremony

Student and faculty awards included:
• Willis E. Snowbarger Award for Teaching Excellence presented to Dr. Paul Fabbi, SGCS affiliate professor, teaching in the Master of Business Administration and Doctor of Education: Ethical Leadership degree programs.
• Ralph E. Perry Student Award of Excellence presented to Dr. Derrick Wells of Flossmoor, Illinois. He recently presented his research on the topic “Toward a Sustainable Leadership Model for Pastoral Leaders” during Olivet’s 2016 Ethical Leadership Colloquium. 

Additional recognition

The 2016 commencement was the 103rd in Olivet’s history. Other commencement weekend activities included:
• The Friday evening baccalaureate service. Dr. Bowling delivered the sermon, “Your Days Are Numbered,” based on Psalm 90:12. He challenged the Class of 2016: “Be willing to exchange the passing moment for something eternally meaningful.” Graduates Megan McKinley, a Christian education major from Sugar Grove, Illinois, and Garrett Muhlstadt, an engineering major from Kankakee, Illinois, gave student testimonies.
Social work pinning ceremony (28 graduates). The Spirit of Social Work Award was presented to Laura Fosnaugh of Bourbonnais, Illinois.
Nursing pinning ceremony (41 traditional graduates). The Sigma Theta Tau, Kappa Sigma chapter, Senior Nursing Excellence Award was presented to Barbara Budach of Woodridge, Illinois.
Phi Delta Lambda, Gamma Chapter banquet. The chapter inducted 51 new members. Jamie Kraus — a junior engineering major with a concentration in geological engineering from Oak Forest, Illinois — received the chapter’s Enduring Hope Scholarship. 
Military/ROTC commissioning ceremony. Seven cadets were commissioned as new second lieutenants in the U.S. Army.