Lee University held graduation exercises this weekend, conferring degrees to 363 graduates and announcing special awards for faculty and students for the year.
Commencement exercises were held outside Saturday morning on one of the warmest days this spring. Nearly five thousand people listened as Dr. Raymond Culpepper encouraged the graduates to be persistent and to take people with them on the way to achieving great things.
Faculty Excellence Awards were given to Dr. Johnny Evans, Dr. Emerson Powery, and Dr. Lee Cheek. The Faculty Excellence Awards are given once a year, and honor outstanding professional performance in the three key areas.
Evans was the recipient of the 2004 Excellence in Teaching Award for his effectiveness in the classroom. The 2004 Excellence in Scholarship Award went to Powery, who has been on a research sabbatical at Wake Forest University Divinity School and at Asbury Theological Seminary.
Cheek earned this year’s Excellence in Advising Award for his dedication to preparing students for life after Lee, be it in graduate school or the work force.
One veteran faculty member was recognized for his considerable tenure at the institution. Mr. Alan Burns, Assistant Professor of Business, was honored for 25 years of faculty service.
Burns earned a bachelor of chemical engineering degree from Georgia Tech and holds a masters of science in operations research/systems analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School and a MBA from Golden Gate University.
In 1979 Burns joined the Lee Business Department faculty, and for 25 years he has enjoyed teaching and working with students. He has been honored with the Business Department’s Advising Award.
Student Awards are also given each year at May graduation. Four winners accepted medals during the Commissioning Service Friday night, where a majority of the program involved graduating seniors.
Kimberly Reed received the Zeno C. Tharp Award, which is given to the senior who shows the greatest promise of making a significant contribution to the life of the church. It is named in honor of the sixth president of Lee, who served from 1935-1944.
Reed is the daughter of William and Renee Reed. She graduated magna cum laude with a degree in special education. Her future plans include attending a seminary to further her study in Christian ministry and to continue her work with Global Outreach in Arizona and with orphans.
In an unprecedented decision, Lee officials presented two students, Jennifer Leigh Small and Agnieszka Kamila Wojnicz with the F.J. Lee Award. Established in 1968, this award is named in honor of the second president of Lee, and is given to the senior with the most outstanding record of student achievement.
Small is the daughter of Ann McLaughlin and Curtis Small. She graduated summa cum laude in December with a 4.02 GPA and a double degree in English and Mathematics Education.
Her plans for the future include teaching high school while she pursues a master’s degree at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
Wojnicz is the daughter of Daniel and Bozena. Originally from Gliwice, Poland, she is fluent in Polish, English, French and German. She graduated from Bradley High School here in Cleveland in 2001, and in only three years graduated from Lee.
She graduated summa cum laude with degrees in political science and history and plans to go to England after graduation to study law at the University of Southampton. She was also accepted into law school at the University of Edinburgh.
Lacey Loudermilk Huffling received the Charles Paul Conn Award, which is given to the senior who shows the greatest promise of intellectual and academic achievement beyond the undergraduate level. It is named in honor of the sixteenth president of Lee whose tenure began in 1986.
Huffling is the daughter of Larry and Linda Loudermilk of Ellijay, Ga., and she is married to Brian Huffling. She graduated summa cum laude in December 2003 with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in Biological Science-Biodiversity/Ecology. Her future plans include pursuing a Ph.D. in Systematics and Ecology at the University of Kansas.
During her time at Lee Huffling excelled academically, socially and through service. Her research has been published in the Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science and has been presented at several notable conferences, including the Colloquium on Conservation of Mammals in the Southeastern United States, the Annual Conference of the Wildlife Society, and the Annual Meeting of the Southwestern Association of Naturalists.
As another honor, a group of seniors are selected to participate in Friday evening’s Commissioning Service. This year, six speakers were chosen from the graduating class to recount some of their experiences at Lee. Another student is selected to present special music, and two students are asked to pray the invocation and benediction.
This year’s speakers for the “Lee University Experience” were Agnieszka Kamila Wojnicz (also a winner of the F.J. Lee award), Michael Benjamin Ward, Katie Michelle Buntain, Mikey Adams, Carissa Rae Adams, and Russell Isaac Willemsen Jr..
The invocation for the service was led by Jessica Rodriguez. Special music was performed by Janah Lenay Daniel, soprano, and Philip D. Brown prayed the benediction.