Commencement Address Podcast
Chancellor Anne Ponder
2006 Commencement Address
May 13, 2006
Time 10:18 | Size: 4.1 MB
For Immediate Release
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UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder Honors 561 Graduates; Commencement Ceremony Celebrates Achievements and Promise
Some 4,000 family members and friends gathered on UNC Asheville’s sunlit quadrangle Saturday morning to honor 561 graduates at the University’s commencement ceremony.
Early in the ceremony, UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder presented two honorary degrees, one to James E. Ferguson II, who led the peaceful desegregation of Asheville in the 1960s and went on to become one of the nation’s most prominent civil rights attorneys, and another to Doris Betts, one of the South’s most accomplished writers.
Ferguson, an Asheville native, is co-founder and president of the Charlotte law firm of Ferguson Stein, Chambers, which is credited with influencing more landmark state and federal legislation in school desegregation, employment and voting rights than any other in the nation. A 1960 graduate of Stephens-Lee High School, Ferguson was the first president of Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality (ASCORE), which held nonviolent demonstrations leading to the desegregation of local establishments during 1959–65.
Betts, a native of Statesville, has produced nine short-story collections and novels, including “Souls Raised from the Dead,” a 1994 New York Times top 20 best books selection. She has won the Sir Walter Raleigh Award the maximum three times, the Putnam Fiction Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. For more than 35 years, Betts taught creative writing at UNC Chapel Hill, achieving a legacy of excellence in teaching and shaping young writers.
Chancellor Ponder noted that Betts and Ferguson are among those extraordinary women and men whose accomplishments and contributions to humanity represent the very best of the liberal arts tradition, and drew on their lives as models for UNC Asheville’s newest graduates.
“Your liberal education here has prepared you to take your place in the world, to lead, to embody greatness. We recognize and appreciate your achievements here and acknowledge the change within you as you have learned and excelled here with us,” she said. “. . . As you go forward from this day, I hope that you will continue to treasure all that UNC Asheville has come to mean to you; that you will remember fondly and admiringly the professors who encouraged you, the difficulties that challenged you, the friends who loved you, and the experiences that changed you for good.”
Chancellor Ponder honored three graduates with UNC Asheville's highest student awards.
Sarah Elizabeth Hancock, a psychology major from Greensboro, received the William and Ida Friday Award for Community Service. Hancock was active on campus through the Key Center for Community Citizenship and Service Learning, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and the University Ambassadors program. She volunteered with the Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Asheville, Asheville-Buncombe Community Christian Ministries women’s shelter, Hospitality House and YWCA.
Brian Patrick Davis, a mass communication major from Gastonia, received the A.C. Reynolds Award and the Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Leadership and Campus Service. A University Ambassador throughout his undergraduate career, Davis also was co-president of Alliance, managing editor and photography editor of the Blue Banner student newspaper, member of the senior class leadership board, volunteer tutor of English as a Second Language, summer conference assistant and resident assistant.
Sarah Judith Mine, a political science major from Chapel Hill, was named the recipient of the Manly E. Wright Award, which is presented to the student who is first in scholarship. Mine, a summa cum laude graduate with Distinction in Political Science and Distinction as a University Scholar, studied at the University of Copenhagen and was as an intern at the Danish Institute for Human Rights. She was the founder and first president of the UNC Asheville World Affairs Club and a leader of the University’s team at the Southern Regional Model United Nations competition. As a research assistant on the Political Terror Scale project directed by political science professor Mark Gibney, Mine worked with renowned human rights scholars around the world.
The Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Bert Holmes, the Philip G. Carson Distinguished Chair of Science and professor of chemistry. Holmes, who joined the UNC Asheville faculty in 1998, has conducted National Science Foundation-funded research on CFC replacement chemicals for more than 15 years. Holmes is especially noted for mentoring students, many of whom assist with his groundbreaking research.
Total number of graduates: 561
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