Millsaps College's 118 Commencement Ceremony was held on Saturday, May 12 at Broadmoor Baptist Church. Undergraduate and graduate degrees were awarded to 271 students.
Continuing a tradition that began in 2011, the Commencement address was delivered by the recipient of the Millsaps College Founders' Medal, David Anthony Guyott, of Schertz, Texas. The Founders' Medal is awarded to the graduating senior with the highest grade point average and an excellent on comprehensive examinations. Guyott received a bachelor's degree in English and Spanish with a minor in Latin American Studies.
In his address, Guyott encouraged his fellow classmates to do good in the world and to find a job they enjoy.
"We're so busy trying to accomplish all these things in life that we forget to enjoy life. We need to find what makes us happy, fulfills us and enriches our lives," Guyott said.
Also recognized in the ceremony was William Mitchell Webb, of Shreveport, La. Webb received the Frank and Rachel Anne Laney Award, given to the graduating senior who has written the finest essay reflecting the value of a Millsaps liberal arts education.
Ashley Christopher Evans, of Brandon, spoke on behalf of graduate students from the Else School of Management. Evans was chosen as the Outstanding Master's of Accountancy Student. On active duty with the National Guard, Evans' Millsaps education was interrupted by service in Afghanistan.
During his remarks, Evans urged graduates to remember that their everyday interactions put them in a position to help others.
"Our Millsaps education has given us a unique set of skills that can positively influence others," Evans said. "What we do matters. What we do and how we do it matters."
Others recognized during the service included Dr. Bill Storey, professor of history, as the Distinguished Professor. The award recognizes a faculty member who inspires students through their excellence as teachers, and whose writing, research, and artistic accomplishments are of the highest quality and serve to enhance their teaching and the learning of students.
Also recognized was Lauren Williams, of Trussville, Ala., as The Don Fortenberry Award winner. The award is presented to a graduating student from any undergraduate academic division of the College who is considered to have performed the most notable, meritorious, diligent, and devoted service to Millsaps College with no expectation of recognition, reward, or public remembrance.
During the Ceremony, the College conferred honorary doctorate degrees on individuals who have been influential in their respective fields or have made significant contributions to society. They are:
Robert Parker Adams, an alumnus, is a Jackson architect who has overseen the preservation of many of Mississippi's historic buildings including the Old Capitol, New Capitol, Governor's Mansion, the War Memorial Building and Jackson City Hall. He is a nationally recognized authority on the preservation and restoration of historic structures. After spending a year at Millsaps, Adams finished his degree in architecture at Auburn University. He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for his exceptional services in directing construction operations during the Vietnam War. At the age of 69 he received a master's degree in historic preservation from Goucher College.
Judge Neal Brooks Biggers Jr., a native of Corinth who completed his bachelor's degree at Millsaps in 1956, served four years in the United States Navy before receiving a law degree from the University of Mississippi. He practiced law for five years in Corinth prior to his election as Alcorn County prosecuting attorney in 1964. He served as district attorney for the First Judicial District of Mississippi from 1968 to 1975, and served as circuit judge of that district from 1975 to 1984, when he was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to his current position as U.S. District Judge for North Mississippi. He was chief judge from 1998 to 2000.
Elaine Gradinger Crystal, businesswoman, civic and cultural leader, and life trustee for Millsaps College, has lived in Mississippi since her marriage in 1949. She attended MacMurray College, the University of Iowa and Millsaps College and participated in Millsaps' Leadership Seminar in the Humanities in 1988-89. She is a member of the board of directors for the family's business, Jackson Iron & Metal Company, where for a period of time in the 1970's and 80's, she oversaw real estate management and development activities. She is an original board member for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life. The Elaine and Emmanuel Crystal Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund administered through the Community Foundation of Greater Jackson, supports a number of arts, religious, and educational entities in Jackson, including Millsaps College.
Charles L. Overby, a native of Jackson, is an advocate for the field of journalism and until his recent retirement, headed the Freedom Forum, which developed and operates the Newseum in Washington, D.C., among many other global commitments to freedom of expression. Before his work in Washington, he was executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger when the newspaper's news and editorial coverage of Mississippi's education reform received a Pulitzer Prize. In 2008 he received the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in the Media.
Bishop Hope Morgan Ward was elected a bishop in The United Methodist Church and appointed to Mississippi in 2004. A native of North Carolina, she holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from Duke University. She is a frequent teacher and preacher across the global United Methodist connection. She has served as vice president of the General Board of Global Ministries, president of JustPeace, chairperson of The Advance channel of missional giving for the United Methodist Church and Vision Alignment Chairperson of the Council of Bishops. Recently, she has been recognized for outstanding leadership by the Mississippi Religious Leadership Council.