Commencement Ceremony at Allegheny College Celebrates 388 Graduates, Three Distinguished Leaders
Allegheny College today honored 388 graduates and presented honorary degrees to three distinguished scholars at Commencement ceremonies held on Bicentennial Plaza in the shadow of historic Bentley Hall on a spectacular spring afternoon.
Honorary doctorates of humane letters were conferred on the Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson, a 1972 Allegheny graduate; Dr. David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU); and Dr. Armendia Dixon of Meadville.
Warren, who delivered the Commencement address, will be retiring from the NAICU after 25 years, effective June 30, 2019.
He told graduates about Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, and how he had to make many “boundary decisions” during his administration, including racially integrating the U.S. military in 1948 and firing five-star General Douglas MacArthur in 1951. Truman made his boundary decisions, Warren said, after extensive information gathering, hard deliberation and consultation, and weighing whether the decision he was about to make squared with his personal values.
According to Warren, when asked what he would tell his critics after making those decisions, Truman replied, “I told them I have done the best I can do. I have no regrets.”
The Class of 2019 — like their parents’ generation and Truman — will have many boundary decisions ahead of them, Warren said. Issues such as global warming, the rise of despotism across the world, and the power and future of genetic engineering will demand life-altering decisions, said Warren.
“Those will be the boundary decisions facing you,” Warren told the graduates. “Seize the day, and seize the chance to change it.”
Warren began his tenure as NAICU president in 1993, after nearly a decade as president of Ohio Wesleyan University. Warren’s tenure has been highlighted by the fight to preserve and protect federal financial aid for students of all backgrounds and to maintain the independence of private, nonprofit colleges and universities.
Wilson is the retired global leader for the Metropolitan Community Churches and a renowned leader in the LGBT Christian community. Wilson served as global leader in the Metropolitan Community Churches from 2005 until her retirement in 2016. She was the second person, and the first woman, to serve in that role since the organization’s founding in 1968.
Dixon’s career in education spans 58 years, from Mississippi to Meadville. She has been dedicated to community service since her arrival in Meadville in the 1970s, having been involved with the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund, the Meadville Bicentennial Committee, and founding the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mentoring program. She recently received the Gov. Raymond P. Shafer Award for Distinguished Community Service in recognition of her efforts.
Allegheny President James H. Mullen, Jr., who will retire on June 30, 2019, presided over his 11th and final Commencement at Allegheny. He took a moment to express an “enormous sense of gratitude” for his years at Allegheny and for the students and alumni with whom he has shared that experience. “You have enriched my life immeasurably,” said Mullen.
He called on the 2019 graduates to achieve at the highest level as professionals and as citizens, to employ the full measure of their promise and potential, to live lives of courage and conviction, to see and appreciate beauty even when others may not, to find joy and laughter in the challenge of their days and to never forget what it means to be a friend.
“I charge you to love this place that has been your home for the last four years,” said Mullen. “Help it as it sets the standard of excellence for liberal arts learning in America.
“Together as the Class of 2019 — as friends and colleagues, joined to generations past and future, move those tassels and proclaim to the world that you are today, tomorrow and always ‘Allegheny,’” Mullen said.
About Allegheny College
One of the nation’s oldest liberal arts colleges, Allegheny College celebrated its bicentennial in 2015. A selective residential college in Meadville, Pennsylvania, Allegheny is one of 40 colleges featured in Loren Pope’s “Colleges That Change Lives.” Allegheny also is known nationally as one of the few colleges to require students to take both a major and a minor, each of which is in a different academic division. In its 2019 rankings, U.S. News & World Report recognized Allegheny among the top 30 Most Innovative national liberal arts colleges in the country.