Shenandoah University celebrated its 2018 Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, in the new James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center. The event celebrated 223 August 2017 graduates, 322 December 2017 graduates, and 757 candidates for May degree conferrals.
President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., presented James R. Wilkins, Jr., a member of the board of trustees since 1990, with the President’s Medal for his service to the university. Wilkins and his family gave a lead gift to name the facility.
“This building serves as a symbol of his love and dedication to Shenandoah University, the greater Winchester community, and the Northern Shenandoah Valley,” said President Fitzsimmons. “Jimmy’s commitment is a continuation of the Wilkins family legacy in support of the university since Shenandoah’s move to Winchester in 1960.
“He can recall nearly every detail of Shenandoah’s history, from his father’s initial enthusiasm in the 1950s for relocating what was then Shenandoah Conservatory and Shenandoah College to Winchester, when there were 200 students, to what Shenandoah University is today,” she said.
Four faculty emeriti were recognized for their long and significant service on the teaching faculty and their distinguished record of service within their discipline. Those individuals recognized included:
- Martha Morrow, Ph.D., associate professor of nursing, who served as an educator and practitioner of nursing for 35 years. She retired from Shenandoah University’s Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing in August 2015.
- David Newton, Ph.D., professor of biopharmaceutical sciences, who served the university and the Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy for 25 years. He retired in August 2017.
- Elizabeth “Beth” Caluda, D.M.A., professor of piano, who provided more than 30 years of service to Shenandoah Conservatory and the university. She retired in August 2017.
- Clyde Thomas Shaw, M.M., professor of cello, who joined Shenandoah Conservatory as an artist and teacher, whose expertise included a distinguished international performing career. He retired in May 2017.
Shenandoah University presented one of its top honors, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, to Assistant Professor of Nursing Naomi Pitcock, D.N.P., RN, during commencement. Seniors Duasiané Benjamin ’18 and Karen Cornejo-Guillen ’18 received Algernon Sydney Sullivan Awards at the College of Arts & Sciences Honors Ceremony in Goodson Chapel-Recital Hall on Friday, May 11.
Algernon Sydney Sullivan awards are presented at 70 college and university campuses each year to honor college seniors and community members who demonstrate a commitment to serving others. At Shenandoah University, it is annually granted to two graduating seniors, as well as one non-student selected from the faculty, staff or board of trustees. The awards are given to individuals of “noble character” whose “fine spiritual qualities” are “practically applied to daily living.” The awards are presented to those who go “outside the narrow circle of self-interest” and invest themselves in the well-being of others – individuals who are “constant reminders to us of those high qualities which ennoble and beautify living.”
Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction Karrin Lukacs, Ph.D., was selected as the 2018 Exemplary Teacher of the Year for her excellence in teaching, availability and concern for students, contributions to Shenandoah University and the community, scholarly and professional achievements, and her collegiality. The Exemplary Teacher Award is given annually to a faculty member by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church and Shenandoah University. Nominations are solicited from the university community and reviewed by faculty, staff and students.
Following closing remarks by Fitzsimmons and a benediction by the Rev. Dr. Justin Allen, graduates, parents, family and friends were invited to a President’s Reception in a tent outside the Wilkins Athletics & Events Center.