Converse College conferred 171 degrees during its 115th commencement May 19 in Twichell Auditorium. The college also presented the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award to one graduate and a community leader, and several academic and scholarly achievement awards to graduates and Converse faculty members.
Renowned poet and Converse alumna Ellen Bryant Voigt delivered the commencement address. A native of Virginia and member of Converse’s Class of 1964, Voigt served as Poet Laureate of Vermont from 2000-2004 and is the author of six books of poetry.
In her address, Voigt beckoned the graduates to “use your mind and mind your soul. You leave here with a valuable, privileged asset: a liberal arts education, which has as its goal to teach one how to think. Not how to compile ‘information’–that changes faster than we can speak of it–but how to divide the spurious from the real, the false from the true, to leave nothing of your experience unexamined, none of your principles untested.”
The commencement was an especially big day for graduating senior Bianca-Martina Rohner of Kaufbeuren, Germany who was presented with the student Mary Mildred Sullivan Award and the Elford C. Morgan Award for having the highest academic record in the College of Arts and Sciences at Converse.
Spartanburg resident Nancy Rainey Crowley was presented with the Community Service Mary Mildred Sullivan Award. Crowley, a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, has received numerous awards from organizations, individuals, and the city and county of Spartanburg for her extensive work with the Charles Lea Center, St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic, the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, the Spartanburg Humane Society, and many others. She has served the Spartanburg Day School as a volunteer, worked with the Salvation Army, United Way, and the Junior League. She conceived and implemented two major festivals in Spartanburg: “FestiFall,” which is in its thirteenth year, and “Dickens of a Christmas,” in its 14th year.
Therese Ann Akkerman of Boiling Springs, S.C., was presented with the Pi Kappa Lambda Award, which is given to the senior with the highest academic record in the Petrie School of Music.
Dr. Siegwart Reichwald, associate professor of music history, was presented with The O’Herron Award for Faculty Excellence. The award is presented annually to a faculty member who demonstrates exceptional teaching effectiveness, creativity, mentoring and advising, curriculum development, involvement in student-related activities, and achievement in research and publication.
Dr. Richard Keen, assistant professor of psychology, was presented with The Kathryne Amelia Brown Award, which recognizes faculty members who have excelled in the classroom. A faculty member nominated Dr. Keen because, as she declared, “the thing I most about admire about Rich’s courses is the way he links his own research on behavioral psychology to his teaching…. Students tell me that he shares his research with students and even involves them in some of his experiments. Students have been enthusiastic about this link to ‘real’ research of the types they read about in their psychology texts. By sharing his research Rich is consistently modeling the teacher scholar I know I aspire to be.”