Bluefield College ceremoniously kicked off the 2011-’12 academic year with the pomp and circumstance of its annual President’s Convocation, August 31.
Dressed in full academic regalia, BC faculty and staff marched into Harman Chapel for the traditional ceremony, which featured formal greetings to students from BC leadership; words of wisdom offered by longtime Christian higher education leader Dr. Paul Corts, and a pledge of commitment to excellence and honor from the entire BC family.
President David Olive welcomed new and returning students to the commencement occasion. He recognized special guests in attendance, including professors emeritus David Armbrister, Gerald Clay and Will Gordon; trustees Tom Brewster and Julie Johnson; and pastor Ed Fisher of First Baptist Church of Bluefield.
The president also spoke about core values at Bluefield College, including academic excellence, service above self, care, respect, encouragement, and Christ-centeredness.
Other BC leaders offered similar greetings to students, including Board Chair Julie Johnson, Faculty President Mimi Merritt, Alumni Association President Dan Agee, and Student Government President Bethany Liddle. Agee spoke about the excitement of both the beginning (student) and end (alumnus) of the BC experience. Liddle encouraged her fellow classmates to “get involved.” Merrit challenged students to “open your hearts and minds to learning as much as possible to make this world a better place,” and Johnson spoke of the reasons why trustees support the school.
“God is richly blessing Bluefield College,” she said. “There is a dynamic energy and a sense of renewal on this campus, and students, you are the reason we as trustees invest our time in resources in this place.”
In his keynote address, Dr. Corts, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, congratulated Bluefield College on its perseverance and loyalty to its mission. Most of Christian higher education, he said, has lost its way, but Bluefield, he added, has remained faithful to the integration of faith and learning, service to the community, and transforming students? lives. What will you do in response, he asked students?
“Will you let Bluefield College shape and mod and transform your life so that you walk humbly with the Lord, show mercy, and do justice,” Dr. Corts asked. “Will you allow your life to be clay in the hands of the capable faculty and staff at Bluefield College?”
The President’s Convocation also included the formal induction of new students into the BC student body through the reading of commitment statements and the signing and pledging of honor codes. The students pledged to “turn our hearts and minds toward wisdom,” “be a blessing to each other,” and “follow standards of conduct.”
In addition, the program included the introduction of new faculty and staff, including Melissa Baker, head women’s basketball coach; Lisa Bales, admissions director; Erika Bell, assistant athletic trainer; Jennifer Bohannan, student career advocate; Debbie Checchio, financial aid director; Nicki Childress, administrative assistant for academic affairs; Mike Compton, assistant football coach; Caroline Dixon, human resources assistant; Kevin Downer, professor of exercise and sport science; Pamela Fox, admissions counselor; Stacey Hairston, assistant football coach; Brian Hall, head golf coach; Dr. Dale Henry, dean of online programs; Bruce Hopler, director of spiritual formation; Chip Lambert, technology application developer; Ryan Lambert, assistant baseball coach; Dr. Carolyn Lewis, professor and chair of nursing; Bryan Maddox, director of online courses; Wakunuma Nanuma, financial aid counselor; Chase Neidig, sports information director; Dr. Martin Offield, associate professor of biology; Kim Potts, director of admissions; Dr. Irene Rieger, assistant professor of English; Tim Robinette, computer technician; Kim Rolen, campus safety officer; Mark Sarver, head tennis coach; Tara Shelley, assistant athletic trainer; Micah Stephens, coordinator of online media; Erin Tiller, coordinator of advancement services; Brian Votaw, head volleyball coach; Kristen Walker, head softball coach; and Brenda Workman, admissions office assistant.