Class of 2016: Countdown to commencement

LC President Dr. Kenneth Garren shares his insight on watching the Class of ’16 walk in May.

Lynchburg College president Dr. Kenneth Garren beamed as the conversation began about the end of the 2015-2016 academic year and the excitement of commencement.

“The air is so full of excitement when people walk across and get that diploma as something that they’ve worked so hard for, and they finally have those degrees in hand and they’re ready to strike out into the world,” Garren said.

This is Garren’s 54th commencement, not including his own and his children’s, and he said that every single one had him floating with joy. He is excited to see how the graduates use their unique liberal arts degree to achieve even greater goals after their time at LC.

“Every person out there is a new book with a lot of pages not written on yet, and we’re anxious to see those pages get written and celebrate when we hear of the victories they have when they leave Lynchburg College,” Garren said.

The Class of 2016 will walk across the stage in front of Hopwood Hall May 7, and the excitement is shared with those who are on the stage with them.

“We’re just as happy as hornets and just buzzing up there,” Garren said.

The Hornets will not become alumni until after Vice President and Dean of Student Development John Eccles gives the commencement address. He was voted for the honor by the senior class.

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi will receive an honorary LC doctorate during commencement. Garren was acquainted with him during a recent trip to India, and hopes that he will be able to attend the ceremony and say a few words to the graduating class.

“He is a fantastic person, and I’d love for the graduating class to be able to hear even five minutes of him,” Garren said.

The first events on the end-of-the-year agenda are dedications of the right Dell-side entrance of Hall Campus Center to Thomas Tiller ‘56, who dedicated almost 50 years to LC on Friday, April 22. The addition of the Walker name to the Alumni House will take place this Saturday, in honor of Billie Sue and Charles Walker. The couple has donated a total of approximately $3 million to the College, and Garren wanted to honor them for their generosity.

“They weren’t rich, but they cared enough about this place and they had that dedication to it,” Garren said.

The schedule of events for undergraduate students include the Nursing Pinning and MSN Recognition Ceremony, Westover Honors Ceremony, Baccalaureate Service and Candlelight Ceremony May 6. Garren reflected on the nurses’ ceremony and how it showcases the students’ stories.

“The most beautiful part about the nurses’ ceremony is to hear them individually have their stories read as they walk across the stage; someone is reading and talking about who cared for them and supported them,” Garren said. “I wish every graduate had the opportunity to do that.”

The support that all of the graduates have received from faculty, staff, family and friends does not pass by the president. He encourages students to celebrate their victories with those who have helped them reach their goals.

“All of the ceremonies have their own joy and pride. We all celebrate what has happened, and what’s coming for the future,” Garren said.

Another rewarding part of watching the Class of 2016 receive their diplomas and move onto the next chapter of their lives is knowing that they will continue to reach for the stars in whatever profession they choose, Garren said. Ample leadership opportunitieson campus have allowed students to gain invaluable experience.

“Keep that desire in being the very best in what we do. Not second; the best,” Garren said of his philosophy, extending it to the College and its graduates. “A person’s reach always extends their grasp. You may not be able to touch it, but you can get something close to it. It’s the reaching for it that gets you where you need to be.”

Commencement begins at 10 a.m. on the lawn in front of Hopwood. The full list of times is on