Record Number of Students Graduate at B-CU Spring Commencement
At its spring 2010 commencement ceremony, Bethune-Cookman University awarded degrees to 519 graduates – the largest graduating class in the institution’s history. Of the diplomas awarded, 389 were Bachelor of Science degrees, 113 were Bachelor of Arts degrees, and 17 were Master of Science in Transformative Leadership degrees.
“Last year, when I greeted the graduating class of 2009, we had a total of 458 graduates, with nine from our master’s degree program. I declared that the University was graduating its largest class ever. Little did I know that 2010 would break that record,” noted B-CU President Trudie Kibbe Reed. “Congratulations to all our graduates and their families. This is a proud moment as you witness your achievements being recognized and honored with a university degree.”
Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, presiding prelate of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church’s 13th Episcopal District, delivered a rousing commencement address urging the new graduates to take up the mantle of leadership in their communities:
“we need men and women who know what they stand for and not what others tell them to stand for; we need leaders who know what they believe in and have the ability to act on what they believe; we need passionate, compassionate leaders . . . leaders who have the ability to focus on the whole as well as the many parts for one should not take on the job of leadership if you’re not willing to see beyond your own needs.”
Bishop McKenzie serves as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her historic election in the year 2000 represents the first time in the church’s history that a woman had obtained the level of Episcopal office. In 2004, she again made history by becoming the first woman Titular Head of the denomination as the president of the Council of Bishops. Bishop McKenzie had previously served in 2000-2004 as the chief Episcopal servant of the 18th Episcopal District in Southeast Africa which comprises Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique.
In her remarks, she also talked about overcoming obstacles and persevering through adversity, telling the graduates “I can’t tell you that the road is going to be easy, that they’ll always be a blue sky, but I will tell you if you keep pushing and pushing and refuse to quit and give up, you will achieve your greatest dreams.” Bishop McKenzie closed her 20 minute address by posing a series of challenges to the class of 2010:
“I dare you to stretch out on your visions, whether they’re for you or for somebody else. I dare you to develop enduring qualities of character in a morally inept world. I dare you to make your home a centerpiece for love and spiritual values. I dare you to take care of your body that is the temple of the holy spirit. I dare you to step boldly in spite of the odds, to innovate, to create. I dare you to launch out in the deep and go where no one has ever been before. I dare you to be successful. I dare you to achieve. I dare you to lead. I dare you to rise out of the ashes of failure and try, try, try again. I dare you – I d-double dare you – to tackle the tough issues of our community. I dare you to dream big and bold without putting limitations on God. I dare you to shake the dust of defeat off your feet and press on to the high calling of Jesus Christ. I dare you – I d-double dare you to make better wherever you go, so when you leave, they say you did a good job. I dare you—I d-double dare you.”
In addition to delivering the commencement address, Bishop McKenzie received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. Mr. E. Dean Montgomery, B-CU’s executive vice president/chief financial officer/chief operations officer also received an honorary doctorate at the commencement ceremony.
Also honored was Dr. Kekeli Nuviadenu, chair of B-CU Department of Speech Communications, Theater and Visual Arts. Dr. Nuviadenu received the Robert B. and Mary Alice Massey Faculty Member of the Year award, which is given each year to a faculty member who performs during the academic year at the highest level and in doing so brings significant recognition to fellow faculty members, students and the university as a whole.
In addition to his duties within B-CU’s School of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Nuviadenu is chiefly responsible for students at the university’s Miller’s Center Extension Site being able to continue to pursue their degrees off site. Because of his exemplary performance as a professional educator and classroom teacher, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools urged B-CU to petition to keep the Miller’s Center site open to serve hundreds of current and future students.
Photos available on request
About Bethune-Cookman University
Founded in 1904 by Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement. B-CU offers baccalaureate degrees in 37 majors through six academic schools – Arts & Humanities; Business; Education; Nursing; Science, Engineering and Mathematics; and Social Sciences – and maintains intercollegiate athletic programs and instrumental and choral groups that have achieved national recognition. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of more than 3,400.