WILSON, N.C. — May 12, 2018 — This beautiful, sunny day with a welcomed, occasional breeze provided a perfect backdrop, as graduates and their families gathered with the Barton College community on center campus for Commencement Exercises on the eve of Mother’s Day, Saturday, May 12.

Two hundred and fifty-three undergraduate and graduate students participated in the 116th annual commencement exercises. Dr. Douglas N. Searcy presided over his third commencement program as president of Barton College. Dr. Gary Daynes, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented the graduating class. John Lee, chair of the Barton College Board of Trustees, presented the Board’s Approval of the Graduating Class.

Jane Smith Patterson, a 2017 recipient of the distinguished North Carolina Award for Public Service, was the featured speaker. She has devoted three decades of her career to the fields of science, technology, and information infrastructure, having led regional, national, and international initiatives in these areas of expertise.

Participating in this year’s commencement ceremony were students who completed their baccalaureate degree requirements in December 2017 and May 2018, as well as undergraduate candidates who expect to fulfill requirements over the summer. Also participating were graduates of the Master of Business Administration degree in Strategic Leadership, Master of Science in Nursing degree, and Master of School Administration degree programs.

The three highest honors presented to Barton students: the Hilley Cup, the Coggins Cup, and the Hemby Leadership Cup, were awarded during the program.

The Hilley Cup, presented annually to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average, was awarded to Shannon Brooke Casto of Goldsboro, who graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual Communications.

The Coggins Cup, presented annually to the student voted best all-around by the Barton faculty and staff, was awarded to Nicole Sue Helton of Fuquay-Varina, who graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

The Hemby Leadership Cup, presented to the graduating senior who, in the estimation of the college community (including students, faculty and staff), has demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout a career at Barton College was awarded to Rachel Danielle Krueger of Jacksonville, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion.

In celebration of teaching excellence in the classroom and faculty commitment to student success, the Lincoln Financial Excellence in Teaching Fund Faculty Member of the Year awards were presented to Mark Gordon, associate professor of art in the School of Visual, Performing, and Communication Arts, and Linda O’Boyle, associate professor of nursing in the School of Nursing.

Senior class president Jens Madsen Hordvik of Arendal, Norway, addressed the graduating class. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology.

Tracy O’Shields Mitchell, class of 1998, president of the Barton College Alumni Association and its Alumni Board, brought greetings to graduating seniors on behalf of the Alumni Association.

Earlier on Commencement Day, there was the inaugural Hooding Ceremony for the Master of Business Administration in Strategic Leadership graduates in the School of Business.

The Reverend Blythe Taylor, clergy liaison for the college, officiated at the baccalaureate service on Saturday morning. The Reverend Taylor delivered the baccalaureate message, and the Reverend Gary Walling, senior minister of the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Wilson, presided at the Communion Table.

Commencement festivities began this past week with the Hooding Ceremony for the Master of School Administration graduates in the School of Education was held on Thursday evening, May 10, as well as a special ceremony recognizing graduating students who completed the Whitehurst Family Honors Program, earlier on Thursday afternoon. A reception for graduating students was hosted by Dr. and Mrs. Douglas N. Searcy at the Barton-Graves House on Friday, May 11. Later, on Friday evening, the Pinning Ceremony for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates and the Hooding Ceremony for the Master of Science in Nursing graduates in the School of Nursing was held.