A standing-room only crowd packed the gym in St. Catharine College's Lourdes Hall Saturday morning to witness the college's 80th Commencement Ceremony. It was another historic day for SCC as yet another record number of 160 candidates shattered the previous mark of 118 set just one year ago.
The ceremony started at 11 a.m. as the processional got under way with music provided by the Marion County High School Band. Father Ben Brown led everyone in the invocation, followed by the National Anthem, performed by senior English major Catherine Bohn.
After President William D. Huston welcomed those in attendance, he introduced the guest speaker, Margaret Ormond, OP, Prioress of the Congregation of Dominican Sisters of Peace.
"When she was first suggested as our guest speaker for our 80th Commencement, I was heartbroken to find out she would not be available," Huston told the crowd. "But then we received word that there was a change in her schedule and she would be able to attend this historic day for St. Catharine and we thank her for coming overseas to be with us today."
Ormond spoke to the candidates about the legacy of St. Catherine of Siena and their charge to seek their bliss and set the world on fire in the Dominican tradition.
Next, Dr. Don Giles, Vice President for Academic Affairs, introduced Dr. Robert Slocum, Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. David Arnold, Dean of the School of Professional Studies, and Dr. Harry Nickens, Dean of the School of Health and Human Sciences, to read the names of each candidate who were presented diplomas.
Following the awarding of degrees, President Huston announced Robbie Polin, President of Springfield State Bank and member of the SCC Board of Trustees, as the recipient of the Veritas Award, an award given on rare occasions to an individual who has made significant contributions to the progress of St. Catharine College. Polin, a 1971 graduate of St. Catharine College, has been a strong supporter of SCC over the years, chairing the College's annual golf tournament for several years and serving on the Board of Trustees.
"I feel honored to be in the company of those who have received this award in the past," Polin said. "I would like to thank President Huston for his leadership, the dedicated faculty and staff, the Board of Trustees and the Dominican Sisters of Peace. I feel honored to be a member of the St. Catharine family, being on the Board of Trustees and serving on committees. It's been a great pleasure for me to see the growth of the College. It's amazing, what's happening here. I thank everyone who made this possible."
After the presentation of the Veritas Award, President Huston addresses the graduates and said those long-awaited words to the Class of 2012.
"Upon the authority of the Board of Trustees of St. Catharine College, I hereby confer upon you the degree which you have earned with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities which thereunto pertain," said Huston. "You may now place your tassels to the left, congratulations to the St. Catharine College Class of 2012."
Photos from Commencement 2012 are available on the official St. Catharine College Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stcatharine.