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OWU Celebrates 161st Commencement

May 8, 2005


[ Commencement 2005 ]
[ Commencement 2005 ]
DELAWARE, OHIO – “You can’t be prepared for everything in life, but you will be prepared for anything in life, thanks to your Ohio Wesleyan education,” said Jo Ann Emerson, the first woman to represent Missouri in Congress and OWU’s keynote speaker at the University’s 161st Commencement on Sunday, May 8.

Family and friends of the 411 graduates (including five sets of twins, three identical and two fraternal) listened intently as Emerson, the representative of southern Missouri’s agriculturally diverse Eighth District, and a 1972 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, spoke to the graduates, their families and friends on a picture perfect spring day in Phillips Glen on campus. Emerson shared with the crowd that very little has changed for her since those days at OWU, as she worked toward her undergraduate degree in politics and government.

“I have moved from debating issues with my peers in college to having those conversations with colleagues in Congress,” she said. “And now, rather than being graded by my professors several times a semester, I see my grades every two years!”

After graduating from Ohio Wesleyan, Emerson pursued an active career in public affairs and as a lobbyist, working for the National Republican Congressional Committee, American Insurance Association and the National Restaurant Association. She entered the political arena in 1996, after her husband, Bill’s death—succeeding him in his political post—and winning 50 percent of the vote. She has been re-elected by strong margins primarily because of what is said to be her care and attention to serving her constituents—and is a leading advocate for farm families, hunger relief, safe and affordable prescription drugs and expanding free trade with Cuba. She admitted that as a college student, she never dreamed she would be a member of Congress one day.

[ Commencement 2005 ]
[ Commencement 2005 ]
“Like me, most of you, the Class of 2005, will end up doing something with your lives that you never planned, but because of your solid educational foundation at OWU and the profound sense of community at this university, you will be well prepared,” said Emerson.

Also part of OWU’s Commencement program was the presentation of the University’s two highest teaching awards. The Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award was presented to Professor of Education, Connie Zitlow. Receiving the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for the Encouragement of Teachers, was Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Robert Harmon. Newly added this year, was the Libuse L.Reed Endowed Professorship, which was awarded to Associate Professor of Politics and Government, Sean Kay. Professor of Economics, Norman Gharrity, was awarded the Adam Poe Medal as he retired from the University after 43 years of service.

Finally, honorary degrees were conferred upon Dr. Robert Kail ’71, a leading developmental psychologist in the world, and Anthony Hecht (posthumously), one of the greatest American poets of his time. OWU’s Senior Class President, Wandia Chiuri, encouraged her classmates: “Keep your eyes on your prize. Believe in the strengths within you. OWU has given us great tools to go out in the world and make a difference.”

Special academic honors were recognized during the program as indicated below:

  • SCL (Summa Cum Laude), with highest honor – 42
  • MCL (Magna Cum Laude), with high honor – 28
  • CL (Cum Laude), with honor – 64
  • PBK (Phi Beta Kappa) – 48
  • Slocum Prize – 4
  • Meek Leadership Award – 6
  • Grad. with University Honors – 21