McDaniel College celebrates 139th Commencement

May 26, 2009

Relatives and friends of the Class of 2009 cheered as McDaniel College awarded 477 master’s degrees and 448 bachelor’s degrees May 23 at its 139th Commencement.

Top academic honors went to Stuart Clarke and Jennifer Piechocki, each with a 4.12 GPA, who tied for the Argonaut Award – given to the senior with the highest grade-point average – and to Laura Kurrle, who received an Edith Farr Ridington Phi Beta Kappa Writing Award for the most well-written thesis.

Before the ceremony, graduates marched through Memorial Plaza as Old Main bell rang loud and clear. Since 1991, seniors have passed by the bell, now mounted on a brick pedestal, for the ceremony that signals the closing chapter in their academic lives. As first-year students, they each rang the same bell to symbolize the beginning of their college career.

Joining the graduates in cap and gown were honorary degree recipients Ferenc Somogyi, Ambassador of the Republic of Hungary to the U.S., who received a Doctor of Public Service, as well as Stephen Spinelli Jr., class of 1977 and president of Philadelphia University, who received a Doctor of Business Administration degree.

In his remarks, Somogyi encouraged the Class of 2009 to tackle challenges with the confidence that each graduate has something to offer.

“Despite of my visible role and tangible contributions [in world affairs], I do not think, that I have made history,” Somogyi said. “But I was, on more than one occasion, lucky enough to be active part of it, and the experiences I gathered have made me convinced, that no one is too small, to make a difference. I often recalled, what an old teacher of mine, kept on saying to us: ‘each and every human being is a mote in the universe, but that mote, should always shine.’”

Spinelli urged the college’s newest graduates to “think big and solve big problems.”

“This honorary degree is a reminder to me of those life changing experiences and relationships created during my four years on the Hill and the value of being a part of the McDaniel family.”

In a time-honored tradition, McDaniel's faculty, staff and administration again tried to guess exactly what time Commencement would end -- and Biology Professor Brent McMillan's guess came closest to the 4:22:09 p.m. close of the college's May 23 ceremony.