McDaniel College graduates the Class of 2018

History professor Stephen Feeley with three History students Katie Creveling, Josh Irvin and Jared Wlimer
May 19, 2018

Family and friends of the Class of 2018 cheered the 351 bachelor’s and 285 master’s candidates who received their degrees May 19 during the College’s 148th Commencement ceremony.

McDaniel President Roger N. Casey sent the graduates off with two requests.

“Wherever you go, no matter how far you travel around this incredible world, show off your McDaniel swag and Green Terror gear with pride,” he said. “Friend us, email us, post to us regular updates so that we can keep up with all that you will acoomplish. And keep it up. You are now liberal artists and scientists, or masters of your professional disciplines, charged with working collaboratively to confront the world’s problems and embrace change as a friend.”

Casey invited the graduates to ring the bell in time-honored tradition before leaving campus to signal the closing chapter in their time on the Hill. As first-year students, they each rang the same bell to symbolize the beginning of their college career.

From 17 countries and 22 states and the District of Columbia, the graduates completed studies in 50 programs. They are global citizens, having studied in 20 countries, including Bahamas, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Peru, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania.

The inaugural group of Dorsey scholars received their degrees during Commencement. The three students received scholarships through a program named for 1891 alumnus Philip Henry Dorsey, whose $6.7 million bequest established the scholarships for students who are especially motivated to build successful lives of leadership, service and social responsibility.

Eight graduates received the Global Fellow designation on their diplomas for completing a three-year program that is designed to enhance their understanding of global issues, develop heightened intercultural competency and cultivate the skills and attitudes important to leading successful lives in a global context.

In a final celebration for the College’s 150th anniversary, the ceremony included a fanfare, titled “E Tenebris in Lucem Voco (I call you out of darkness into light),” by acclaimed composer and arranger Glenn Caldwell, a music professor at McDaniel. Read more about Glenn Caldwell here.

Rebecca Ann Debinski of Sykesville, Md., received the College’s Argonaut Award for earning the highest grade-point average of 4.00 in her completed course of study and Jared Michael Wilmer of Westminster, Md., won the Edith Farr Ridington Writing Award for the best senior paper.

In addition, The Joan Develin Coley Award for Excellence in Education, to a graduate student with the best record in the study of literacy theory and practice, honored Hannah Nichole Cook of Hanover, Pa., who earned a master’s degree in the Reading Specialist: Literacy Leadership graduate program. Since 2012, Cook has taught fifth grade at Baresville Elementary School in the South Western School District in Hanover, Pa., where she also attended elementary school. (Read more about them in “Top undergraduate and graduate honors awarded at Commencement”)

Margaret E. Pfaff was honored with The Shelton Adjunct Faculty Award, established in 2018 through the generosity of Dr. Barbara P. Shelton ’70 and Dr. Gordon B. Shelton ’68 to recognize an outstanding adjunct faculty member at the graduate or undergraduate level whose teaching demonstrates a commitment to excellence and genuine care for their students. Pfaff, who earned a master’s degree at McDaniel in 1993 is lead instructor for the “School Leadership in the 21st Century” course offered in the Educational Leadership graduate program at McDaniel and also director of curriculum and instructional resources for Carroll County Public Schools.

Three professors and a coach/senior lecturer with emeriti status were recognized upon their retirement for their combined 113 years of service to the College. Faculty recognized for their service to the College are Ira F. Domser, professor of Theatre Arts, with 37 years of service; Debra A. Miller, professor of Education, with 18 years of service; and Marilyn Smith, associate professor of Chemistry, with 20 years of service; and  David G. Seibert, senior coach lecturer and head baseball coach, with 38 years of service.

Joining the graduates in cap and gown was honorary degree recipient Francis “Skip” Fennell, a professor emeritus of education at McDaniel College, where he continues to direct the elementary mathematics specialists and teacher leaders project supported by the Brookhill Institute of Mathematics. A mathematics educator who has experience as a classroom teacher, principal and supervisor of instruction, he is a past president of the Association of Mathematics Teacher Educators (AMTE), the Research Council for Mathematics Learning (RCML) and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

Widely published in professional journals and textbooks related to PreK-8 mathematics education, Fennell has also played key leadership roles with the National Science Foundation, Mathematical Sciences Education Board and the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction. He has traveled across the United States and overseas to provide professional development and consulting support to schools, school districts, state departments of education, colleges and universities.

“I’m a teacher,” Fennell told the graduates. “My experiences include public school classroom teaching, serving as a principal and supervisor, teaching as a faculty member at this institution for 39 years and working in the field of teacher education for over 40 years. 

“So, this talk, to some extent inspired by the late Randy Pausch’s ‘The Last Lecture,’ is dedicated to the class of 2018 and entitled ‘The Last Lesson Plan.’”

Fennell walked the graduates through the design of a lesson plan and then focused on goals — in this case the graduates’ lifelong goals. He first considered content, then implementation, competition, involvement, formative assessment, reflection and self-evaluation.

Then the topic turned to tough love as Fennell prodded each graduate to delete their “Stupid Stuff” file.

“Stupid stuff has no boundaries — it’s certainly more than what you may have said or who you said it to. It’s also those things you didn’t do. We all do this. Confession — my Stupid Stuff file is so vast, I have boxes of Stupid Stuff.”

Pausing a moment, Fennell reached for a piece of paper and explained while crumpling it.

“But it’s your Last Lesson Plan, so here’s what happens. We’re allowing, even encouraging, you to do this. Crumple them up and toss it away,” he said. “When you walk across the stage you can smile and we promise not to remind you of a single Stupid Stuff moment.”

After quoting Jim Valvano and Mahatma Gandhi, Fennell closed with a few words of his own: “Keep the Stupid Stuff to a minimum, and make your own luck.”

In a time-honored Commencement tradition of guessing the exact time the ceremony ends with the first note of McDaniel’s Alma Mater, Computer Science professor Paul Lin came closest with his guess of 12:38:59 p.m., 100 seconds longer than the actual closing time of 12:37:19.