Monmouth College 157th commencement exercises on May 18 will conclude a busy weekend of activities.
The ceremony, featuring an address by Paul Weisenfeld, vice president of Global Programs at RTI International, will begin at noon on the Wallace Hall plaza. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held in the Huff Athletic Center.
Commencement weekend events will begin on May 16 with a dedication ceremony for the college’s Pattee Hall (formerly The North Hall) at 3 p.m.
On May 17 at 3 p.m., the traditional baccalaureate service will be held in Dahl Chapel. The service will feature a message from the Rev. Dr. John Buchanan, pastor emeritus of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church and editor/publisher of The Christian Century magazine, who will speak on the theme of facing an unknown future with confidence, hope and grace. The service will be followed by a reception in the Huff Athletic Center concourse.
Members of the Class of 2014 and their families will convene in Glennie Gymnasium at 5:30 p.m. for the President’s Senior Gala. At 8 p.m., a commencement concert will be presented in Dahl Chapel.
Prior to joining RTI, Weisenfeld served as assistant to the administrator directing the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Bureau for Food Security. While there, he led one of America’s signature international development initiatives, “Feed the Future,” which aims to reduce food insecurity through innovative, evidence-based strategies and state-of-the-art monitoring and evaluation programs.
Weisenfeld’s invitation to give the commencement address is fitting, as this was the academic year during which Monmouth College announced that food security would be the first issue addressed by its new “Triads for Excellence” integrated learning program.
Weisenfeld’s career as a foreign service officer spans more than 20 years. He has served in a wide variety of senior positions, including tours as mission director in Zimbabwe and Peru. During his distinguished career, he achieved the rank of career minister, the highest level position in the Senior Foreign Service.
At USAID, Weisenfeld’s roles also included deputy assistant administrator for the Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean and coordinator for the Haiti Task Team, during which he led post-earthquake recovery efforts. He was also a regional legal advisor for USAID’s Egypt and South Africa programs. Weisenfeld has also worked to strengthen collaborative research efforts between USAID and leading universities, and built long-term partnerships with private-sector companies to encourage innovation, increase financing and improve market access in developing nations.
Cyrus Turner, a physics major from Reynolds who was recently named the college’s Senior Man of the Year, will present welcoming remarks. Will Terrill, an English major from Sandwich and Student Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois, will be a featured speaker. Brad Whitcomb, a mathematics major from Greenview, will deliver the farewell address on behalf of the seniors.
In keeping with a recent MC tradition, a pre-college teacher will bring greetings and congratulations to the graduates. This year’s honoree, Christine Malebranche, teaches English at Jones College Prep in Chicago. She was nominated by graduating senior Beverly Krueger.
The Rev. Dr. Teri Ott, who plans and prepares for the baccalaureate service throughout the year with a committee of senior students, spoke of the importance of the Saturday event.
“Baccalaureate is a worship service of thanksgiving and is designed to send off our graduating seniors. It is specifically Presbyterian in its central focus on scripture and on the proclamation of God’s word with a sermon delivered by a religious leader.”
The author of three books, including “A New Church for a New World,” Buchanan has held a variety of leadership positions in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). He served as Moderator of the denomination’s 208th General Assembly in 1996-1997 and has represented the Presbyterian Church as a member of the Governing Board of the National Council of Churches.
Later on Saturday, the formal Senior Gala dinner will be preceded by an invocation by Anders Nelson, a mathematics and religious studies major from Galesburg. Raven Robinson, a public relations and communication studies major from Peoria, will present the senior reflection. Lydia Butler, a communication studies major from Littleton, Colo., will present President Mauri Ditzler with the class gift. Members of the senior class will be presented with pins by the Alumni Association, welcoming them into the organization.