For Immediate Release
May 10, 2008
Podcast added on 05/13/08
Public Information Office
310 Owen Hall, Campus PO 1820
Asheville, NC 28804-8507
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UNC Asheville Celebrates 80th Annual Commencement;
More than 4,000 family and friends gathered on
UNC Asheville's Quadrangle Saturday morning to celebrate UNC
Asheville's 2008 graduating class, the largest in University
history. Some 715 students were honored during the 80th annual
Commencement Ceremony, including 467 spring graduates, 215 winter
graduates and 33 summer graduates.
Among them was Asheville native Matt Anderson, a music technology major, who became UNC Asheville's first third-generation graduate. He joins his father Andy Anderson, Class of 1982, and his grandmother Ann Anderson, a 1956 graduate of Asheville-Biltmore College and UNC Asheville Class of 1970, in the ranks of the more than 13,500 University alumni.
"When Matt decided to go to UNC Asheville, that was just normal. It never occurred to us that we were setting a precedent," said Ann Anderson. "All three of us realize what the University has done for us and our families and our ability to contribute in our own ways to society. We're very proud."
Early in the ceremony, UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder presented an honorary degree to esteemed educator and humanitarian Johnnetta B. Cole.
Cole has had a long and distinguished career
focused on education, equality and social justice. In 1987, Cole
made history when she became the first African American woman to be
named president of Spelman College, a historically Black women's
college in Atlanta. Later, Cole served as president of Bennett
College for Women. She is the only individual to have served as the
president of the two historically black colleges for women in the
United States. Much of her time is now focused on her role as the
chair of the board of the Johnnetta B. Cole Global Diversity and
Inclusion Institute, founded at Bennett College for Women. The
author of several books, Cole also serves on numerous prominent
boards, including the National Visionary Leadership Project,
TransAfrica Forum, Africa University in Zimbabwe, the Atlanta
Falcons and the Smithsonian's Scholarly Advisory Board for the
National Museum of African American History and Culture.
After receiving her honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree, Cole addressed the graduates, urging the students to fight against bigotry and discrimination in their homes and schools, and places of worship, recreation and work.
"I want you to help change the world one step at a time," Cole urged the graduates. "Destroy the lines that divide us based on gender, race, age, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and physical and mental abilities."
Throughout her address to students, Cole drew upon the wisdom of diverse cultures, quoting leaders from Caesar Chavez to Audre Lorde. She closed by saying, "You've got to love yourself and find ways to love the diverse peoples of our world."
Chancellor Ponder also honored three graduates with UNC Asheville's
highest student awards.
Megan Emily Graham, an atmospheric science major from Wyckoff, N.J., received the William and Ida Friday Award for Community Service. Graham was active in volunteerism across the campus and the community, bringing students together to work for the local and national organizations. For nearly three years, she served as president of the UNC Asheville Chapter of Habitat for Humanity where she founded the group's Alternative Spring Break Program, which takes students to New Orleans to help with hurricane recovery efforts. In addition, Graham, who is seeking work in the field of emergency management and preparedness, has already begun training with the Red Cross' Disaster Action Teams.
The A.C. Reynolds Award and the Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Leadership and Campus Service was presented to political science major David Chamberlin Cox. The Greensboro, N.C., native has worked tirelessly to promote and serve UNC Asheville, including serving as a University Ambassador, host to special campus guests and one of the founders of a new student-alumni association. Additionally, Cox's personal commitment to the study and improvement of race relations has been instrumental in the creation of one of the University's most significant community outreach programs, the annual State of Black Asheville Conference.
Jessica Lynn Wallace, a double major in history and literature from
Fletcher, N.C., was named the recipient of the Manly E. Wright
Award, which is presented to the student first in scholarship.
Wallace spent a summer doing research in Oxford and came back to New
York City to participate in a research program as a Gilder Lehrman
History Scholar. She chaired a session at the 2006 National
Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and presented papers at
two additional NCUR meetings. Wallace was an active member of
Humanities Student Association, the History Student Association and
the University's Quiz Bowl Team.
During the ceremony, Chancellor Ponder also honored the University's faculty and staff with annual top awards.
Brenda Henderson was named Distinguished Staff Member. Henderson, who joined the staff in 1998, serves as office assistant in the Chemistry Department. In addition to her regular office duties, Henderson also orders supplies and equipment for chemistry labs and coordinates the annual Squibb Lecture in Chemistry. She is known for her organization skills, friendly attitude and concern for students. The faculty noted that "Brenda is as devoted to maximizing student learning as any faculty member in the Department of Chemistry."
The Distinguished Teacher of the Year Award was presented to Steven C. Patch, professor of mathematics and director of the Environmental Quality Institute (EQI). Patch, who joined the faculty in 1984, is a well-respected statistician. In the classroom, Patch is noted with combining passion with patience when tackling difficult course material. One student noted, "I can say I never had a better teacher… he continually goes above and beyond the call of duty because his heart is really in what he does." In the EQI lab, Patch coordinates education and research projects involving undergraduate students on issues dealing with environmental quality, water quality and lead contamination.
Prior to the close of the ceremony, Chancellor Ponder reminded all
the graduates that they would always be a part of the University.
"As the years pass, and you remember our glorious mountains, rivers, city and campus, please know that we here at UNC Asheville will always hold you close in spirit," she said. "We will think and care about each and every one of you. We will follow your achievements, your life's joys and sorrows and we will remember you as you climb up these steps today – your shining faces holding the hopes and promises for the future."
UNC Asheville Class of 2008 Facts
Total number of graduates
715 (the largest in University history)
467 spring graduates
215 winter graduates
33 summer graduates
Youngest graduate: 20
Oldest graduate: 63
Percent from Buncombe County: 30.1%
Percent from Western North Carolina: 48.0%
Percent from the Piedmont: 30.0%
Percent from Eastern North Carolina: 7.0%
Percent from out-of-state: 15.5%
Number of states represented, excluding North Carolina: 30
Number of countries represented, excluding the U.S.: 6
Most Popular Majors
Literature & Language: 7.9%
Management & Accountancy: 7.7%
Environmental Studies: 7.6%
Mass Communication: 6.3%
Additional Information for Graduates and Their Families
Photographs: Graduates' photographs will be taken as they receive their diplomas by the Georgia-based company Action International Marketing. After Commencement, the photographer will send purchase information to graduates' permanent addresses on file with the University or click on www.mygradphotos.com to view and order photographs.
The Asheville Citizen-Times has published an online photo gallery of
Click here to access the gallery.
Diplomas: Graduates receive their actual diplomas at the ceremony. UNC Asheville's diplomas are 14 inches wide and 11 inches tall. Frames are available in the UNC Asheville Bookstore.
Commencement DVD: A DVD of the Commencement Ceremony in its entirety is available for purchase. Send a $5 check payable to "UNC Asheville" to ATTN: Chris Asbill, UNC Asheville Media Center, One University Heights, CPO 1510, Asheville, NC 28804. Be sure to indicate where you'd like the DVD sent. Questions? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commencement Address: The complete text of Dr. Johnnetta Cole's commencement address is available online. Click here to read a copy of her remarks.
Commencement Addresses Podcast: The Commencement Addresses by Dr. Cole is available for download or listening online at the University's podcast page.
Honorary Degree: Dr. Cole is among a distinguished list of artists, business and civic leaders, educators and philanthropists who have received an honorary degree from UNC Asheville. Click here for a complete history.
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