December commencement marks university milestone

By Kim Chaudoin on 12/9/2011


Lipscomb University’s December commencement was a day filled with firsts as well as recognition of special honorees and graduates.

Hilton Dean receives an honorary doctorate degree.
Graduates gather before the ceremony begins.
David Scobey, chairman of the board of trustees, carries the university mace during the recessional.

More than 341 students crossed the Allen Arena stage Saturday, Dec. 17, to receive their diplomas, marking the largest fall graduation in university history. The class also included Hilton Dean, chairman emeritus of the board of trustees, who was presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by President L. Randolph Lowry for his service to the university. It is the third honorary doctorate conferred in university history.

According to statistics from the Lipscomb registrar, the December ceremony featured the most graduate degrees ever awarded at one time in Lipscomb’s history, the most MBA degrees ever awarded at one time and the most Master of Education degrees ever awarded in a December commencement ceremony.

Lowry reminded graduates that they are always welcome at Lipscomb.

“Beyond the secular, we encouraged you to consider the sacred. Beyond the temporal we sought to take you to the eternal. And while you were here we helped you to think not only about what you should do in life, but far more significantly who you should be. May your great accomplishments be eclipsed by your service. May your faith be the foundation for your challenges in your lives,” said Lowry. “May you take with you the knowledge that whatever happens to you and where ever you go on this earth, you will always have a home at Lipscomb University.”

Fall commencement also marked the first time a university mace has been a part of the ceremony. The mace was crafted from the wood of an elm tree that is purported to be on the fence line of David Lipscomb’s farm where the campus stands today. The mace was carried in the procession by Hilton Dean, chairman emeritus of the board of trustees, and was recessed out by current board chair David Scobey.

Young Alumnus of the Year Patrick Chaffin (’96) was also honored and encouraged graduates to define success.

“‘Where are you going?’ What is success? Where will that take you? If you don’t decide right now how you’re going to define success in your life I fear that one day you will wake up and realize that you pursued all the wrong things. Decide today whom you will serve. Decide today where you are going and what success will be defined for you,” said Chaffin, vice president of strategic planning and investor relations for Gaylord Entertainment.

Assistant professor of biology Sydney Z. Clayton, who spoke on behalf of the faculty, encouraged graduates to reflect on their memories of people at Lipscomb.

“When you think of your memories of your days at Lipscomb, most of them are outside the four walls of a classroom. Your memories are filled with the faces of your peers and of faculty and staff who took the time to listen. My challenge to you is a simple one — invest in people. Remember the faces and the voices of those who have molded you and the time they have invested in you and then to do the same for others,” she said.

Honor graduates for the December graduating class included Benjamin Chester Hannah, a molecular biology major from Pegram, Tenn.; Alexander Kelly Patterson, a molecular biology and Spanish major from Franklin, Ky.; and Amiko Maria Warren, a psychology major from Chattanooga, Tenn. The SALT Scholars for the class were Cinthia Padilla-Ortiz and Taylor McKeel Sample, who both received Bachelor of Arts degrees in law, justice and society with a conflict management emphasis.