As members of Ohio Wesleyan’s Class of 2012 are preparing to fasten their mortarboards for Commencement on Sunday, May 13, months of planning by many members of the OWU community are leading up to what will be a memorable day for graduating seniors and their families and friends. Those attending Commencement—the University’s 168th ceremony—will have the opportunity to hear remarks from this year’s speaker, Mae C. Jemison, M.D., known for her accomplishments as an engineer, doctor, scientist, scholar, entrepreneur—and as a space shuttle astronaut who made history in 1987 as the first woman of color in space.
“Dr. Jemison’s accomplishments in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone and Liberia, her devotion to global affairs and philanthropic issues, and her commitment to educating people of all ages about science and technology mirror the University’s mission and the hopes and dreams of our graduates,” says OWU President Rock Jones. Working closely with Jones during the speaker selection process, Kyle Lemke ’12, president of the senior class calls Jemison “the perfect person to speak to Ohio Wesleyan’s graduates.
“She shares one of the many visions that the senior class has, which is to do things bigger than ourselves,” says Lemke, a health and human kinetics major from Loudonville, Ohio. “ Her global humanitarian efforts in Africa, Cambodia, Thailand, and other parts of the world embody the leadership and service that OWU tries to inspire. When President Jones and I heard that Dr. Jemison would be coming to OWU, we were very happy and we knew the senior class would be as well.”
Also part of the Commencement program is the recognition of two professors who will receive teaching awards to be announced that day—the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for the Encouragement of Teachers and the Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award—and the presentation of several honorary degrees to Jemison (Doctor of Humanities), Helen Crider ’56 Smith and Gordon Smith ’54 (Doctor of Humanities), and Terrance McGuire (Doctor of Laws). In addition, four members of OWU’s faculty will be retiring from the University: Professors Harvey Freeman (psychology), Craig Ramsay (politics and government), Sandra Harper (modern foreign languages), and Margie Shade (health and human kinetics).
Although the Commencement ceremony will start at 1 p.m. that Sunday in Phillips Glen, OWU’s graduates also will be honored the evening before at Baccalaureate Services to be held at 8 p.m. in Gray Chapel. Planned by a committee of graduating seniors, Baccalaureate is coordinated through the Chaplain’s office, and is an interfaith celebration of the spiritual journeys of each graduate during the past four years at Ohio Wesleyan. This year’s theme is “Deep Roots, Reaching Branches.” Those interested in helping out with Baccalaureate should contact Sarah DuBois at email@example.com by Friday or visit chaplain.owu.edu/applicationForParticipation.html