McDaniel College awards 792 bachelor’s and master’s degrees

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May 19, 2012

Family and friends of the Class of 2012 cheered the 339 bachelor’s and 453 master’s candidates who received their degrees May 19 during the college’s 142nd Commencement ceremony.

Before the ceremony, graduates marched through Memorial Plaza at the center of campus as President Roger Casey rang Old Main bell. Since 1991, seniors have passed by the bell, now mounted on a brick pedestal, for the ceremony that signals the closing chapter in their McDaniel College years. As first-year students, they each rang the same bell to symbolize the beginning of their college career. In his remarks, Casey invited graduates to return to the bell and ring it again after the ceremony.

In a time-honored Commencement tradition of guessing the exact time the ceremonyends with the first note of McDaniel’s Alma Mater, retiring Professor of Biology Emeritus Bill Long came closest with his guess of 4:16:35 p.m., only 12 seconds over the closing time of 4:16:23.

“Wear your ‘I am McDaniel’ buttons around the world and friend us with regular updates so that we can swagger anew with all that you will accomplish,” Casey told the graduates. “You have amazed us with your intellect, and we have learned much from you along this journey.”

From 26 states and 14 countries, the graduates completed studies in 36 programs including the first minor in Urban and Community Studies in Sociology. They are headed for Tunisia, France, Zambia, Spain, London, Thailand, England, California, Washington state and D.C., Kentucky, Maine, New York City, Hungary – and, for three of them, Alaska. Musa Imakando of Lusaka, Zambia, will pursue a master’s in Resource Economics, the same program at the University of Alaska as 2011 grad Jen Shriver, who will fly back to Maryland to help husband Ron, class of 2012, pack up their two kids for the move to Fairbanks. Graduate Torin Lehmann heads home to Sitka and his job with a salmon restoration project.

Biology majors Robert “Adam” Herbstomer and Meredith Meyers earned the college’s two top academic honors, the Argonaut Award for earning the highest grade-point average of 4.101 in his entire completed course of study and the Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the best Honors paper, respectively.

Robert "Adam" Herbstomer (right)

Meredith Meyers (right)

The close of the academic year marked the retirements of Professor of Biology Wilbur “Bill” Long after 39 years and Senior Lecturer in Business Administration Joseph Carter Jr. after 24 years. Both were granted emeritus status by the college’s Board of Trustees.

Graduate student awards, The B. Jill Brooks Hodge Professional Development Award and The Joan Develin Coley Award for Excellence in Education, went to current McDaniel graduate student, Steven Lowenthal of Seven Valleys, Pa., and 2012 graduate in the Reading Specialist master’s program Claire M. Howell of York, Pa., respectively.

Lowenthal is a 2009 McDaniel alumnus who is enrolled in the counselor education graduate program with an anticipation graduation of 2013. His focus is in community metal health and he specializes in working with children with developmental issues. He is completing an internship with Adams-Hanover Counseling Services. His award is for the graduate student who has demonstrated academic excellence with a strong compassion for individuals with special needs and an interest in serving the deaf or disabled

Howell earned six grades of A-plus and received the Coley award for the best record in the study of literacy theory and practice. She is currently a learning support teacher at Park Hills Elementary in Hanover, Pa. (South Western School District). Debra Miller, professor of Education and coordinator of the reading specialist program, said, “She is an exemplary model of a high quality teacher in the field. Claire changes lives and makes a difference every day.”

Joining the graduates in cap and gown were honorary-degree recipients Dr. Nancy Grasmick, Maryland’s first female state superintendent of schools, and Dr. Edwin Welch ’65, president of the University of Charleston in West Virginia since 1989.

After reminiscing about his time on the Hill, Welch told the graduates that remembering was his way of inviting them to reflect on what McDaniel and graduation day mean to them.

“My wish and prayer for those of you who are graduating today is that YOU will be nostalgic about McDaniel College – perhaps you feel it already. It has shaped and molded you in more ways that you can realize at this moment. May it forever be part of your fiber and your being,” he said, addressing the graduates. “Treasure this ground, these buildings, and McDaniel College. Be grateful for what you have learned and who you have become. Look forward with eager anticipation for what will be. God Speed, graduates – and Congratulations!”

Dr. Grasmick is known for her strong focus on student achievement, teacher quality and public-school funding. During her 19-year tenure that ended with her retirement in June of 2011, Grasmick enacted policies that included a preK-12 curriculum, statewide assessments and accountability by schools and school systems.

Public service has been a hallmark of Grasmick’s career.

“I encourage all of us to think big when it comes to public service,” she said at the Commencement ceremony. “Each one of us takes from the community, and we have a responsibility to give back to the community.”

Under Grasmick’s leadership, Maryland’s public schools were ranked number one in the nation for three consecutive years (2009-2011) in Education Week’s Quality Counts report, and the momentum continued in 2012 when Maryland schools again topped the list of state report cards. A Baltimore native, she began her career in the classroom as a teacher of Deaf students at the William S. Baer School in Baltimore City.

With bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Towson and Gallaudet universities respectively, Grasmick earned her doctorate from the Johns Hopkins University. Her leadership earned her many awards, among them the Harold. W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education and the William U. Harris Award of Excellence, both national recognitions.

Dr. Welch has led the University of Charleston through extensive growth and fundraising that doubled full-time enrollment, tripled the endowment, redefined the university’s mission, transformed its academic program and added schools of pharmacy and business. During his tenure, seven of the 11 buildings on campus were built, and the university received national acclaim for its leadership in outcomes-based learning and student assessment.
Welch, a Sociology major at Western Maryland College (now McDaniel College), began his teaching career at West Virginia Wesleyan College, where he chaired the Sociology and Anthropology departments. He went on to positions as department chair and assistant dean at Lebanon Valley College in Pennsylvania, the academic vice president at Lakeland College in Wisconsin and provost at Wartburg College in Iowa.

A Maryland native, he also earned degrees from Boston University School of Theology and Boston University Graduate School. Welch studied international relations at the London School of Economics and political science and higher education administration at the Harvard Institution for Educational Management. His doctorate is in social ethics, and he is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church.

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