Charleston Southern University’s Class of 2015 graduated May 9 at the North Charleston Coliseum, the culminating event in the university’s yearlong 50th anniversary celebration.
Approximately 500 undergraduate and graduate students received degrees at the ceremony. Student Government Association president and Class of 2015 graduate Dylan Gunnels addressed his classmates, saying, “You will never experience undying passion until you live in experience with Christ himself. Are you walking away with a spirit of passion?”
Guest speaker Kenneth M. Evans, president of Lord & Evans Capital Group and a retired businessman, noted that the 50th anniversary graduating class has symbolic meaning.
“The centerpiece of this historic moment is the mantle of leadership being placed on your shoulders as a college graduate,” Evans said. “Leadership is inescapable. Everyday, you are leading someone. Be a role model for someone. Influence comes from same word as influenza; you can spread your influence.”
Evans has served as president and CEO of Armor All Products and group president for Home Care Products at Eastman Kodak Company. He has also served on numerous boards at Charleston Southern including the Board of Trustees, Board of Visitors and the Buc Club Board of Directors. He and his wife, Phyllis, are longtime friends of the university and have established three endowed scholarships at CSU.
He closed his message with a challenge: “Today begins a legacy for your future; it’s a gift you both receive and you give. Think about someone you can lift up. You are writing tomorrow’s history today. Your experience and education have prepared you for this moment.”
In addition to awarding diplomas to graduates, the university presented several special awards, including:
— Honorary doctorate in business to Kenneth M. Evans
— Emeritus professor of music designation to Eugene Henry Koester
— Distinguished professor designation to John F. Harper, Jeryl W. Johnson and James E. Roberts
— Excellence in Teaching Award to Celeste L. McMaster