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Rain didn't stop Lenoir-Rhyne University students from enjoying graduation ceremony

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The rain couldn’t dampen the excitement of students graduating from Lenoir-Rhyne University on Friday afternoon.

The graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies were held on the Hickory campus in P.E. Monroe Auditorium at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday.

Lenoir-Rhyne University awarded approximately 340 undergraduate degrees during the 2022 ceremonies. In addition, the university awarded 22 doctoral degrees and nearly 270 graduate degrees across the university’s three campuses in Hickory, Asheville and Columbia, South Carolina, said Doug Minor, Lenoir-Rhyne’s associate vice president for digital strategy.

At the end of the 4 p.m. Hickory ceremony, Lenoir-Rhyne University President Fred Whitt asked the undergraduate students to move their tassels from the right to the left of their caps. As the students moved their tassels, family members, friends and professors cheered and clapped.

Whitt then recited the poem “Anyway” by Mother Teresa. He said he keeps the poem on his desk and draws inspiration from it.

The College Singers, conducted by music professor Ryan Lohrs, led the attendees in singing the school’s alma mater “Fair Star of Caroline.” Campus Pastor Todd Cutter prayed over the students before they were dismissed.

“Graduating students, fellow bears, you are now alumni,” Cutter said. “Go forth into this world in peace, be of good courage, hold fast to that which is good. Return no one evil for evil, strengthen the faint-hearted, support the weak, help the suffering, stand up for the downtrodden and honor all people.”

After the ceremony, students met with their families to take pictures across the campus as the sun began peeking through the clouds.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy received an honorary degree from Lenoir-Rhyne on Friday. The presentation was part of a national initiative begun by Alfred University in Alfred, New York, to honor Zelenskyy’s leadership and show support for the people of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of the country in February, a release from Lenoir-Rhyne University said.

Lenoir-Rhyne is one of about 20 colleges and universities honoring Zelenskyy at 2022 commencement ceremonies, the release said.

Retired Lenoir-Rhyne professor Daniel W. Kiser was presented the Trustee Award on Friday. Kiser served the university for nearly three decades as the director of bands from 1992 to 2021.

Other honorary doctoral degree recipients included the Rev. Tracie Bartholomew, Bishop of New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Rev. Jack Russell, pastor at Living Waters Lutheran Church and the only full-blooded Cherokee pastor in the ELCA.


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