Shenandoah University celebrated its 2019 University Commencement at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 18, in the James R. Wilkins, Jr. Athletics & Events Center. This year, Shenandoah celebrated 198 August 2018 graduates, 336 December 2018 graduates, and 740 May candidates for graduation. Among these were 56 international students from 26 countries.
President Tracy Fitzsimmons, Ph.D., honored Shenandoah military families and their service during her welcome speech. She then called graduate Twanessa Archie to the stage, where Archie was then surprised by her mother, Quadedra Corey, who is currently on her sixth deployment with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Corey hadn’t seen her oldest daughter since August 2018.
I decided to surprise my daughter because I am very proud of her. I would walk miles just to see smiles on my children’s faces. Twanessa has never been a child that I had issues with growing up, and she has turned out to be a pretty great young adult.”
Six faculty emeriti were recognized for their long, significant and distinguished records of service:
- Woodward Bousquet, Ph.D., professor of environmental studies and biology, who has served in the university’s College of Arts & Sciences since 1993. He retires this August.
- Joanne Jacobs, Ph.D., associate professor of English, who joined Shenandoah’s College of Arts & Sciences in 1983. She retired in August 2018.
- Jennifer Matthews, Ph.D., professor of nursing, who served the university and the Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing since 1992. She retired this spring.
- Nina Parker, Ph.D., associate professor of biology, who has served in the College of Arts & Sciences for 23 years. She retired as a full-time professor in August 2018.
- Barry Penn Hollar, Ph.D., professor of religion and philosophy, who has spent 30 years teaching in the College of Arts & Sciences. He retires this August.
- Cindia Stewart, Ph.D., associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences and associate professor of mathematics, who has served the university for nearly 30 years. She retires this August.
Former dean of the Harry F. Byrd, Jr. School of Business Miles Davis, Ph.D., was also recognized as dean emeritus. Davis joined the Byrd School in 2001. In 2018, he was named the 20th president of Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon.
Professor of Music Education and Chair of the Conservatory Academics Division at Shenandoah Conservatory David Zerull, Ph.D., was presented with the 2019 Exemplary Teacher Award for Shenandoah University. Zerull was selected for his excellence in teaching, availability and concern for students, along with his contributions to Shenandoah University. Zerull joined the conservatory faculty in 1990 after 13 years of public and private school teaching in music education. As president of the faculty assembly, he was instrumental in forming Shenandoah University’s faculty senate and served as its first president in 1998.
The Exemplary Teacher Award is given annually 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 are reviewed by faculty, staff and students.
Shenandoah also recognized Paralympic skier Bonnie St. John as an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. St. John was the first African-American ever to win medals in a Winter Olympic competition, taking home a silver and two bronze medals at the 1984 Winter Paralympics.
Walking across the stage this year was Shamyra Wilkerson, who became the first All-American in Shenandoah University track & field history with her eighth-place finish in the 200 meters at the 2019 NCAA Indoor Championships. Wilkerson received her Bachelor of Science in psychology with a minor in criminal justice.
By walking by faith and not by sight, I have become the first in my family to graduate from college. With the many opportunities and challenges I have been presented with over the last four years, Shenandoah University has molded me into the woman I am today. I am forever thankful to have been a part of this family.”
Remarks were given by John Stokely, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Claressa Morton, Ph.D., retiring vice president for enrollment management and student success.