Members of the 2015 graduating class at Emory & Henry College will be part of a generation that will face tough decisions that will shape the course of human existence, according to the president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Speaking to 242 E&H graduates Saturday, May 9, Dr. David L. Warren said many monumental “boundary” decisions lay ahead of them. “I think your generation is going to face a set of questions wholly unprecedented not only in this nation but the world,” Warren said.
He pointed to challenging questions related to the human genome and gene manipulation. Those decisions will involve the making of “designer” babies, self-cloning and dramatic life extension. “This is not science fiction,” Warren insisted.
As president of the NAICU since 1993, Warren has been a tireless advocate and leading proponent for higher education in the United States. He worked with Congress to achieve reauthorization of the federal Higher Education action, which was singed into law in 2008. On behalf of NAICU, he helped assure passage of a new GI Bill, which included provisions for the participation of independent higher education through the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Since 1998, Warren has co-chaired the National Campus Voter Registration Project, which has engaged college campuses in the political and electoral process during presidential and congressional elections. He also has been a leader in the Student Aid Alliance, a higher education conso0rtium whose efforts have resulted in the double of Pell Grand funding since 2007.
Also addressing graduating E&H students was Spencer Mathis, a sociology major from Loganville, Ga., who delivered the senior oration and spoke of the E&H “family” that has molded him throughout his college career. “Excellence is finding your motivation in life and directing it in order to have a positive impact in this world. This excellence cannot be achieved single handedly,” Mathis said.
Delivering the master’s oration, Audra Quesenberry of Abingdon, who received a master’s degree in education, challenged her fellow graduates to “reach out and use what you have gained while at Emory & Henry to go against the status quo and advocate for what is right; contributing to the greater good of our community, our region, our country and our world.”
In addition to commencement addresses, the E&H graduation ceremony was marked by the awarding of the William and Martha DeFriece Award to Dr. Charles Bartlett, a former E&H professor of geology. Bartlett is a renowned geologist and environmental geology consultant who has spent much of his professional career identifying oil and gas reserves to help meet America’s growing energy needs, studying blast vibration damage issues, addressing subsidence and pollution matters, and researching water loss and water resource development.
Special awards were also bestowed upon six undergraduates. They include Mary Grace Hankins of Boones Mill, Va., who received the Byars Medal in Science and the Outstanding Senior Award; Kristie Langley of Staley, N.C., who received the Eleanor Gibson Via Science Award for Women; Spencer Mathis of Loganville, Va., who received the Senior Service Award and the Outstanding Senior Award; and Izsak Barnette, Jennifer Dininger, and Anna Orfield, who won the Snavely Senior Scholarship Prize for having the highest academic average (three-way tie).