From Mars Hill University:
Mars Hill University’s historic first graduation since attaining university status took place on Friday evening, December 20. The institution conferred bachelor’s degrees on 91 August and December graduates, and honorary doctorates on two long-time faculty members in a ceremony in Moore Auditorium on the campus. The most common majors for the graduates were education (elementary, middle, integrated, special), business (administration, management) and history.
Keynote speaker for the evening was Dr. David Smith, honorary trustee of Mars Hill University and pastor of First Baptist Church of Lenoir, NC. Using a text from Ecclesiastes, Smith reminded the graduates that “To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
Graduation is a season of celebration, he said, but it also calls for thankfulness and for remembering those who have helped you along the way. While appreciating the season of celebration, Smith urged the graduates to never leave the season of dreaming.
“God never provides a detailed lifelong plan,” he said. “Direction is provided day by day to those who are open to dreams calling us forward.”
Smith told the students that they should also be aware of a season to change the world. “Don’t wait on Washington or Raleigh to change the world,” he said. “You are God’s appointed agent of change. It is really in the small, everyday acts that true change comes.”
Finally, he warned that every life will have seasons of winter. Those times are difficult, and yet it is easier to see in a bare landscape.
“We can see life clearer in the winter times of life,” Smith said. “Things such as: what is important; the discovery of the people that love us even when we are in the dark time of life; and the God who reveals himself in the difficult times. Accept the season of winter when it comes and give thanks that spring will eventually return.”
Rev. Smith holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Mars Hill College, and a doctorate of divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is a former missionary, and a former trustee and campus minister at Mars Hill College. He lives in Lenoir with his wife, Janice.
The university bestowed honorary doctorates on Bob and Rachel Chapman, a husband and wife who, between them, gave 89 years of service to Mars Hill before their retirement in 1991. Rachel Chapman was a business professor for her entire 45-year career. Bob Chapman served as the assistant registrar from 1947 until 1957, and as the college registrar from 1957 until 1991. During those years, he was also a professor of business. In all, he gave 44 years of service to the college.
The Chapmans continue to be active in the life of the university, and helped found the Retired Faculty/Staff Association. Bob served as the organization’s founding president. The Chapmans also maintain the Chapman Rose Garden, near Pittman Dining Hall on the campus.
Three of the students who graduated on Friday – Chris Ammons of Mars Hill, NC; Lacey Bradley of Fletcher, NC; and Greg Lancaster of Gastonia, NC – were recipients of the first bachelor of science in criminal justice degrees issued by Mars Hill. Until this academic year, the institution offered minors and concentrations in criminal justice, but it now offers a full major.
Student speakers for the graduation were J. Brady Adcock, a business administration major from Pfafftown, NC, and Tabbatha Ayers Garland, a social work major in the Adult and Graduate Studies program from Burnsville, NC. The invocation was given by Joo Kyung “Esther” Kim, a chemistry major from Thessaloniki, Greece.
Special music for the graduation was provided by Sarah Emily Richardson, a musical theatre major from Apex, NC.
Mars Hill University is a premier private, liberal arts institution offering over 30 baccalaureate degrees and one graduate degree in elementary education. Founded in 1856 by Baptist families of the region, the campus is located just 20 minutes north of Asheville in the mountains of western North Carolina.www.mhu.edu .