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Westminster College confers degrees at 169th commencement

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Posted on Saturday, May 13, 2023

Westminster College awarded diplomas to 217 students during the 169th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 13, on the Weisel Senior Terrace of Old Main.  

Members of the Class of 2023 were awarded Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. Three students earned dual Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. Fourteen students received Master of Education degrees, while 10 earned Master of Business Administration degrees.

The day’s ceremonies began with a morning baccalaureate service in the Will W. Orr Auditorium. The Rev. Dr. Asa J. Lee, president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, provided the message, “Is It Time to Go?”

The service’s prelude included music by Westminster College organist Paula Kubic and the Market Street Brass Quintet featuring sophomore Jeremy Beckinger of Coal Center, Pa., on horn, sophomore Isabella Dienes of Rochester Mills, Pa., and senior Charles Lisella of Harmony, Pa., on trumpets, first-year Alayna Ford of Rimersburg, Pa., on tuba, and Dr. R. Tad Greig, professor of music, on trombone.   

Other musicians throughout the baccalaureate service included bagpiper Kim Meek, who also led the processional during the commencement ceremony; a trumpet trio featuring Lisella, Dienes and Dr. Timothy Winfield, associate professor of music; and senior vocalists Hannah Bossinger of Chicora, Pa., Kacie Rumbaugh of Beaver Falls, Pa., and Kayleigh Green of Shade Gap, Pa. Bossinger and Rumbaugh also sang the Westminster College Alma Mater at the close of the afternoon commencement ceremony.

Baccalaureate student senior speakers included Tyler Dickson of Greenville, Pa., Janae Johnson of Oberlin, Ohio, Tiwan Jones of Crestwood, Mo., Emiley Kushner of Cecil, Pa., Olivia Ledbetter of Tarrs, Pa., and Katherine Mozelewski of Pittsburgh.  

Music from the Westminster College Faculty Brass Quintet signaled the start of the afternoon commencement ceremony. Musicians included Winfield on trumpet, Greig on trombone, and additional School of Music instructors, Terry Gale on trumpet, Heather Johnson on horn and Robert Antonucci on tuba. Dr. Melinda Crawford Perttu, chair of the faculty and associate professor of music, was the mace bearer and Dr. Tricia Ryan, assistant professor of nursing, served as faculty marshal.  Students were led by marshals Dr. Patrick Krantz, associate professor of environmental science, and Dr. Jessica Sarver, associate professor of chemistry.  

Jeffrey McCandless, chair of the Westminster Board of Trustees and a 1980 graduate, opened the ceremony followed by the invocation by Rev. Mohr.  President Dr. Kathy Brittain Richardson greeted the members of the Class of 2023 and the day’s guests, while Crawford Perttu provided faculty remarks.  

Lindsey Oliver of Webster, N.Y., offered the senior address during commencement exercises. The criminal justice studies and psychology major, All-College Honors student and magna cum laude graduate presented her “Letter to Westminster.”

“No one expected a pandemic to seize the entire world in a matter of weeks just a few months into our freshman year, but you stood tall,” she said. “You changed and adjusted and we followed suit. You taught us to adapt to whatever circumstances we found ourselves in.”

Oliver also spoke of the spirit of community at Westminster, as well as the faculty and staff commitment to student success. 

“Your faculty and staff have not only taught us the knowledge and skills we need to succeed in our future careers, but also a love of learning that we will carry with us the rest of our lives,” she said. “They built the foundation that we needed in order to explore the field on our own and they guided us every step of the way.”

"You gave us the freedom to try new things, the grace to fail, and the support to start again,” she said.

The prestigious Distinguished Faculty Award was also presented to Dr. Russell Martin, professor of history, prior to the conferring of degrees. Martin, who has been a member of the Westminster faculty since 1996, was nominated for the honor by current and former colleagues, alumni and students. He was described as an accomplished historian, a serious academic with a vast intellect and passion for teaching, and a compassionate and engaging professor.

“For years he has helped mold students into individuals that ask critical questions, seek diverse opportunities and knowledge, and use that historical knowledge to see the world in a more holistic way,” said one nominator.

Martin teaches courses in Russian history, early modern European history, medieval European history, as well as courses on the history of Eastern Orthodoxy.  He earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh and his master’s and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

The award is presented annually to a tenured faculty member who has, over a sustained period of time, demonstrated characteristics of the most outstanding faculty—intellectual vitality, effective communication skills, the ability to motivate or inspire compassion and concern for student success, collegiality and leadership.

To view a list of the graduates, click here.

Above, Lindsey Oliver offers the senior class remarks. Below, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College Dr. Jamie McMinn, right, presents the Distinguished Faculty Award to Professor of History Dr. Russell Martin.