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2011 News Releases

Longwood Class of 2011 urged to serve others

May 14, 2011

Longwood Class of 2011 Graduates

Longwood University graduates were urged at commencement May 14 to maintain their integrity, to be courageous enough to try new things, and to serve others. (View the Commencement 2011 Photo Gallery)

"Service above self will always be the gold standard by which you value your life, not how much gold you can accumulate," Longwood President Patrick Finnegan told the graduates.

"We believe that we should not just provide an education that results in a degree and job opportunities but that everyone at Longwood should dedicate their efforts to teach and lead our students to a key purpose: That Longwood graduates have a responsibility to use what they have learned to improve their community, our Commonwealth, and this country," he said. "We call that citizen leadership. I realize that term has almost become a cliché, but I believe that the underlying idea of service is the key. To another graduating class years ago, Albert Schweitzer said 'I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve.' Maybe there's another way to put it, in terms of a lesson we all learned in kindergarten that is still valid - if you take something out, you have to put it back."

Some 830 bachelor's degrees and 162 master's degrees were awarded. This includes students who finished degrees requirements in summer 2010 and fall 2010, in addition to May 2011. Some 817 graduates were expected to participate in Commencement.

Elizabeth (Beth) Megan Riley, a liberal studies major from Suffolk, and John-Harwood Scott, a chemistry major and biology minor from Farmville, shared the Sally Barksdale Hargrett Prize for Academic Excellence, given to the graduating senior with the highest grade point average. Both graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Scott also received the Dan Daniel Senior Award for Scholarship and Citizenship. This is only the sixth time that a graduating senior has received both awards.

Riley, who graduated in three years, concentrated in elementary education with certification in pre-kindergarten through sixth grade. She is a member of the Cormier Honors College, Phi Kappa Phi national honor society and Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education, is a Hull Scholar, an officer in the Honors Student Association, and an Honors Freshman Orientation Peer Mentor, and she worked at many Honors Admissions open houses and was a volunteer at FACES, a local food pantry. She has been admitted into Longwood's graduate program in education and will pursue a master's degree in literacy and culture. Her brother, Eric, will enter Longwood as a freshman this fall. Riley is the daughter of Col. Andrew and Caroline Riley.

Scott has been accepted at the Medical College of Virginia and plans to be an oncologist. He is a member of the Cormier Honors College; completed a Senior Honors Research project, "Study in Heat Induced Cis/Trans Isomerization in Vegetable Oils and Oleic Acid;" and is a member of the Honors Student Association and has been an Honors Freshman Orientation Peer Mentor and a FACES volunteer. He also serves as a student representative to the Honors Advisory Committee. His brother, Tom, is a 2009 Longwood graduate. Scott is the son of Porter and late Janet Scott. Scott's mother was a Longwood alumna (M.S., '85), and his grandmother, Margaret Scott, worked in the Longwood library from 1967 to 1993.

Dr. David M. Carkenord, professor of psychology, received the Student-Faculty Recognition Award, which honors a faculty member for professional excellence and devoted service to students. Dr. Carkenord, who joined the Longwood faculty in 1992, is the faculty adviser to Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology. He teaches the majority of courses in the industrial/organizational concentration, as well as introductory psychology and quantitative methods, and has done research in pedagogy (teaching methods) and has presented on this subject at national conferences.

Otis L. Brown, president of the Longwood Real Estate Foundation and vice rector of the Longwood Board of Visitors, received the Presidential Distinguished Service Award. This is the seventh time the award has been bestowed since its creation in 2000. Brown was instrumental in creating the Real Estate Foundation and has been president and director since its inception in 2004, and he has served on the Board of Visitors since 2003 (his term expires June 30) and as vice rector since 2007. The resolution that accompanied the award cites the crucial role Brown played in developing Lancer Park and Longwood Landings at Midtown Square, two Longwood-managed off-campus apartment communities. Brown's wife, Frances Young Brown, is a Longwood alumna.

President Finnegan, who came to Longwood in July 2010, was following a tradition in which each new president is the commencement speaker at the end of his or her first year. In his remarks, he highlighted ideas that he hopes students will keep in mind.

Commencement 2011 Crowd

"Honesty and integrity matter," Finnegan said. "You're entering a world where the pace of change continues to accelerate, driven by complex technological, commercial, political and social forces. Dynamic and, at times, disruptive change is the constant of our age and of your future. Higher education can be the best source of the knowledge and the perspective that we need, as individuals and as a nation, to cope with change and its consequences. As borders are obliterated, as time and space shrink, education can be a powerful force that moves the world while it transforms individuals and communities.

"But all the learning you have done, all the skills and knowledge you've acquired, won't mean much unless you apply it properly. Technology and talent alone cannot succeed when character fails. History teaches us this lesson, time and again. The recent near-collapse of our financial system bears witness. There was no shortage of either IQs or computers on Wall Street. Sound judgment and integrity, based not just on the bottom line but rather the long-term welfare of the enterprise and the community at large, were sorely lacking. We're proud of Longwood's Honor Code, which is celebrating its 100th year. Remember its precepts and Longwood's values as you depart and keep in mind that the Honor Code and what it stands for is not just a way of looking at certain things; it is a certain way of looking at everything. Integrity and character matter.

"It takes courage to try new things so that you can keep learning. All of you should have learned the most important thing at any good school: You've learned how to learn. Take that lesson, even if uncertain, and stretch yourselves. Sometimes you may fail; don't worry too much, everyone fails occasionally. If you don't experience any failure, that's usually not a sign of perfection but a signal that your goals may not be bold enough. The real mark of your character will not come from how you react to success, of which I trust there will be many. It will be how you react when you don't succeed, what you learn from those times, that you continue to believe in yourself and remain committed to learning."

Finnegan told the story of how in 1787, as Benjamin Franklin was departing the Constitutional Convention, he was asked "Mr. Franklin, what type of government have you given us?" His reply was "We have given you a republic, Madam, if you can keep it."

"Our founding fathers realized that a people who sought to govern themselves, a nation that wished to keep its new constitutional freedoms intact, must be one in which its citizens are not only educated but embrace the values of honesty, equality, civility, and duty," Finnegan said. "They believed that education should become the basis for service for the good of the community. Longwood's mission aligns directly with the ideals our founders believed necessary to the success and property of this new nation."

Finnegan mentioned the social experiences, including Color Wars at Oktoberfest and Oozeball at Spring Weekend, that he has shared with students. "You could have paid little attention to that new guy who had just arrived as the president. That would have been understandable. After all, you had spent the bulk of your time at Longwood under a different president. Yet you chose to welcome me warmly. I have had the opportunity to get to know many of you, and I've learned a lot. I came here already knowing the Electric Slide (dance), but, under your tutelage, I have added the Cupid Shuffle to my repertoire. I've learned how to play volleyball in the mud and how difficult it can be to wash red and green paint out of gray hair. Today as you prepare to depart 'Farmvegas,' I assure you that I will remember you. But more important, Longwood University will remember. Your names are written on the pages of our history books."

Commencement 2011 Photo Gallery