Churchill: Liberal arts graduates are problem-solvers of tomorrow

May 19, 2003

During Maryville College’s 184th commencement ceremony, Dr. John Churchill, secretary of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, told students, faculty, staff, and guests that liberal arts graduates will be the problem-solvers of tomorrow.

“ The Liberal Arts in a World in Conflict” was the title of Churchill’s address to the more than 200 graduates who marched in Sunday evening’s ceremonies held in Boydson Baird Gymnasium because of rain.

Approximately 240 graduates strong, the Class of 2003 is expected to go down in the history books as one of the largest graduating classes since the College’s founding in 1819.

“ How do we find the middle ground between dogmatism and relativism, between the authorization of righteous violence and the inability to stand up for anything,” Churchill asked in his address. “If there is ground there to be found, it will be found by men and women of broad knowledge, men and women who can compare different perspectives, who possess deliberative capacities, who can argue well and listen carefully, who can live with doubt, ambiguity and uncertainty, who can express themselves well in speech and writing, who understand quantitative data and can interpret it, and who possess a sense of values.

“ That ground will be found by men and women who possess a growing fullness of humanity, who embody the ideals of the liberal arts, and of Maryville College.”

Concluding his remarks, Churchill urged graduates to take with them the Maryville College catalog so that years from their graduation date they could read the College’s Statement of Purpose and judge themselves against it.

“ Do not ask ‘How did they do?’ Instead, ask yourself, ‘How am I doing?’ How well this college will have done depends on how well you do,” Churchill said. “ … whatever your fortune, this college is counting on you to carry the ideals of this place into your world, into the world that, through you, Maryville will help shape.”

Kimball awarded honorary degree

During the College’s commencement exercises, Richard Kimball, director and retired president of the Teagle Foundation, was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree.

Based in New York, N.Y., the Teagle Foundation, Inc., the foundation’s major emphasis is strengthening higher education, with a principal emphasis on small liberal arts colleges.

Charge to the Class of 2003

Following recognition of students inducted into Alpha Gamma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Lambda Honor Societies and those seniors graduating cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude, Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, Maryville College president, awarded the diplomas.

In his charge to the Class of 2003, the president said: “I charge you, Class of 2003, to preserve in your hearts the lessons and epiphanies that have been the instruments of your transformation from what you were at the start to the graduates you are on this commencement day and to use them to make the world a better place for your children and grandchildren and the Maryville College students who will come after you in the line.

“… I charge you to take your Maryville education and that special combination of gifts and insights and abilities that is yours alone, and take on the task of making better a world that needs all the help you can provide,” he added. “May God bless you on your journey.”

Employees recognized

During commencement exercises, recognition was also given to five faculty and staff members for outstanding service during the 2002-2003 academic year.

The Outstanding Teacher Award, the recipient of which is nominated by juniors and seniors at the College, went to Dr. Margie Ribble, associate professor of mathematics. Dr. Drew Crain, associate professor of biology, was recognized as the runner-up for the award.

Receiving the Nancy B. Hunter Outstanding Staff Award was Kay Pritchett of Friendsville, student accounts manager and cashier in the College’s Business Office. Andy McCall of Walland, physical plant director, was named Outstanding Administrator; and Joe Everett of Maryville was presented the Sharon A. Murphy Crane Distinguished Service Award for his work in the College’s maintenance department.