The Allegheny College community gathered with the class of 2017 and their families to reflect on the achievements of graduating seniors — and celebrate their futures —at the Baccalaureate ceremony on Friday, May 12.
Clad in academic regalia, Allegheny trustees, faculty members and the graduating class processed into the College’s Raymond P. Shafer Auditorium to open Baccalaureate, the first of the official Commencement Weekend ceremonies. The Commencement ceremony, where degrees are conferred, takes place on Saturday, May 13, at 2 p.m.
In his welcoming remarks at Baccalaureate, President James H. Mullen, Jr., thanked the class of 2017 for the difference they have made throughout their time at the College.
“You have sought truth and pursued that which is greater than yourself; you have faced challenges with character and with confidence … you have given of your time and talents to serve our community and world; and you have honored the proud history of our College and the legacy of the young men and women who preceded you here,” Mullen said.
Baccalaureate focuses in particular on the spiritual aspect of this important time for graduates, and the ceremony included readings by students from several faith traditions and a message from Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the United Methodist Church’s New York Annual Conference. He held the same position in western Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2016 and also was a member of Allegheny’s Board of Trustees for 12 years.
Bickerton has served as chairperson of the United Methodist Church’s Global Health Initiative, which deals with the church’s response to the diseases of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. The effort has raised more than $70 million since 2010 to reduce malaria-related deaths across the world.
Bickerton challenged the class of 2017 — which includes his son, Ian Edwards — to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly amid hard realities. Bickerton encouraged all to “work tirelessly for the people in the world who have not and can not.”
The Baccalaureate ceremony also featured a slideshow of the graduating class engaged in extracurricular activities and music by the Allegheny baccalaureate choir and the brass ensemble.