UNC Asheville Celebrates 84th Annual Commencement
A spring downpour couldn’t dampen the spirit of the more than 5,000 family and friends gathered on UNC Asheville's Quadrangle Saturday morning to celebrate the university’s 2012 graduating class. Some 731 students were honored as the Class of 2012 during the 84th annual Commencement Ceremony, including 480 spring graduates, 222 winter graduates and 29 summer graduates.
Erskine Bowles, one of North Carolina’s best-known public servants, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and delivered the Commencement Address. With a serious rain shower in progress, Bowles congratulated the Class of 2012, then offered a shortened but strong message to the graduates about the national debt:
“lt’s an enormous problem that came about because my generation hasn’t been willing to step up... We have kicked the can down the road. I do want you to think about the problems facing this country. I do want you to be more aware. I want you to get mad at people like me and my generation. And then I want you to demand that the politicians in Washington, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, do something about it…. They have to make the hard choices. Please make them do it… for yourselves, for your classmates, for the kids you’re going to have some day. Most importantly, please, do it for our country.”
Bowles, former chief of staff in the Clinton Administration and then president of the University of North Carolina System, was appointed by President Obama to co-chair the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.
Chancellor Anne Ponder also presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Al Whitesides, whom she described as “a leader in the Asheville community, a friend of local business, and an advocate for the state’s education system.” Chancellor Ponder recalled Whitesides’ activism as a student during the civil rights movement, and how he brought textbooks along to lunch-counter sit-ins. She quoted Whitesides as saying, “We couldn’t lose track of one thing: If we didn’t finish school and graduate, we couldn’t take advantage of what we were fighting for.”
Whitesides went on to a long career in banking and was honored for his ongoing community service to many Asheville organizations and institutions including Asheville City Schools, the YMI Cultural Center, South College, and the Mission Healthcare Foundation. Whitesides has served as chair of UNC Asheville’s Board of Trustees and is now president of the UNC Asheville Bulldog Athletic Association.
Student and Faculty Awards
During the ceremony, three graduates received UNC Asheville's highest student awards. Two top faculty teaching awards were also presented.
Andrea Gottschalk, of San Diego, Cal., received the William and Ida Friday Award for Service to the Community. Gottschalk earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology with a concentration in Anthropology, a minor in Africana Studies, and distinction as a University Scholar. An active member of HOLA (Hispanic Outreach for Latin Awareness, Gottschalk helped organize the Latino Scholarship Festival to raise money for a local high school student to attend UNC Asheville. She also helped coordinate Manna Foodbank’s distribution of weekend food bags to children, and volunteered with voter registration drives, and with the Family Resource Center’s Latino Outreach Program. She has also helped build homes locally through Habitat for Humanity, and spent her spring break in 2009 helping build homes in Mississippi for families who lost their homes to Hurricane Katrina.
The A.C. Reynolds Award and the Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Leadership and Campus Service was presented to David Kaufman-Moore of Greensboro, who received a Bachelor of Science degree in Management with a concentration in Business Administration. Kaufman-Moore provided much-needed leadership for the International Student Association and for the fledgling Alpha Sigma Phil Fraternity colony, which has become a chapter. He has also lent his energies to the Student Management Association, the Senior Class Board and the Order of Pisgah, and he has served on important university committees.
Lauren Dubuke, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics with a concentration in Pure Math, was named recipient of the Manly E. Wright Award, which is presented to the student first in scholarship. Dubuke participated in research at Louisiana State University and work at UNC Asheville in graph theory and group theory. She presented this work at the Southeast Sectional Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America and hopes to publish her ideas in a research journal. Dubuke, of Maggie Valley, graduated with Latin honors and departmental distinction. She has received multiple offers from prestigious graduate programs, including at least one substantial fellowship and a generous teaching assistantship.
Franklin McCain, member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, accomplished chemist and civil rights pioneer, presented the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching to Ellen Holmes Pearson, associate professor of History. Pearson, who joined the faculty in 2003, was nominated by a committee of faculty. She teaches history and humanities as well as honors and liberal studies introductory colloquia. Pearson is the author of “Remaking Custom: Law and Identity in the Early American Republic” (University of Virginia Press, 2011). Pearson received a bronze medallion and cash award.
The UNC Asheville Distinguished Teaching Award for 2012 was presented to GlaxoSmithKline Distinguished Professor of Molecular and Chemical Biology, Thomas “Ted” Meigs. Meigs, who joined the faculty in 2003, had previously held positions as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University Medical Center and as a research scientist at Duke University’s Center for Chemical Biology. Meigs actively engages individual students and entire classes in his scholarship, using his research to enhance teaching opportunities. Several of his students are included as co-authors in his publications in prestigious research journals.
Profiles of some noteworthy May 2012 graduates
Annelise DeJong (BA in Sociology, Distinction in Sociology, University Scholar, University Research Scholar, Latin honors) won a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English is Sri Lanka. As part of UNC Asheville study-abroad programs, she has already taught English to a predominantly Quechua-speaking class in Peru, and has studied in Costa Rica. After her year in Sri Lanka, DeJong plans to attend graduate school and eventually become an elementary school teacher.
Christy Kirk (BFA in Art, Distinction in Art, University Research Scholar), a painter, is headed for St. Louis, where she has been accepted to one of the nation’s top Master of Fine Arts programs, the Sam Fox School of Art at Washington University. Kirk credits Virginia Derryberry and Robert Tynes, both of the art faculty and both painters, with pushing her and encouraging her. “From my first semester here, they saw through my façade and told me, ‘You can do more,’” says Kirk. She focuses on representational art, including portraits. “I want to invoke emotion through body language and use of color,” says Kirk.
Ben McDonald (BS in Chemistry, Distinction in Chemistry, University Scholar, University Research Scholar, Latin honors) will begin graduate studies at Northwestern University this fall after weighing scholarship offers from other prestigious programs. McDonald gained notice with his undergraduate research with indole analogs of the cancer drug combretastatin; he experimented with ways to optimize the drug’s ability to starve a tumor’s blood supply while minimizing side effects. McDonald offers his congratulations to all of UNC Asheville’s chemistry graduates, saying, “with the rigor of this program, it’s a real achievement.”
Mechatronics graduates: Patrick Herron (BS in Engineering, joint degree with N.C. State University, Concentration in Mechatronics) will be moving to Roanoke, Va., to work for TMEIC (Toshiba-Mitsubishi Electric Industrial Systems Corp.). Other Mechatronics graduates will stay in the area, having found jobs at Eaton Corporation, Vertique, and Tutco-Farnam Custom Products, all in Arden. About 90 percent of UNC Asheville’s graduates in Mechatronics are employed in their discipline or related engineering fields, according to Joe Fahmy, director of Engineering at UNC Asheville. The Mechatronics program, one of only two similar accredited programs in the country, is a partnership between UNC Asheville and N.C. State University, where Fahmy holds a faculty position. Mechatronics is the integration of computer control into the operation of mechanical systems for advanced manufacturing and robotics.
Jeremy Michael (BS in Atmospheric Sciences) begins work at the National Weather Service in Elko, Nev., in just a few weeks and is looking forward to a career in meteorology. Michael, who became fascinated with weather at a very young age, says he has benefited from “a lot of one-to-one time with professors, and the camaraderie of UNC Asheville’s handful of classic weather enthusiasts.” Since freshman year, he has been involved with different research projects – some involving weather balloons, others analyzing snowfall patterns, and measuring rainfall at remote locations in the Great Smoky Mountains.
Emily Pineda (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion) has not yet begun graduate school, but she is about to do something very rare for an undergraduate - submitting an article about her own research project for publication in an academic journal. Her study involved using the university’s new “bod pod” to measure fat vs. lean body composition, and comparing individuals’ self-perception with actual measurements. Pineda earned UNC Asheville’s Outstanding Leader Award and the Athletic Director’s Leadership Award in her senior year. She has worked with middle school students to encourage healthy lifestyles, and assisted the university’s strength coaches in their work with UNC Asheville student-athletes; she is a member of the track and field team. This fall, Pineda will enter East Carolina University’s graduate program in kinesiology with a concentration in physical activity promotion.
All six seniors on the 2012 Big South Champion Bulldog men’s basketball team received diplomas. Some are hoping to continue their basketball careers at the professional level, one is headed for law school, and some plan to enter the job market. Please see the list below:
- Madison Davis (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion)
- Matt Dickey (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion), Big South Conference Player of the Year, Honorable Mention All-American, Big South All-Academic Team, UNC Asheville Male Athlete of the Year
- Jeremy Harn (BA in Political Science, Distinction in Political Science), accepted to law school, Big South Track and Field All-Academic Team
- Quinard Jackson (BS in Management, concentration in Marketing)
- J.P. Primm (BA in Mass Communication), Big South Tournament MVP, Big South All-Conference Team
- Chris Stephenson (BS in Health and Wellness Promotion), Big South All-Tournament Team
Class of 2012 Facts
Total Number of Graduates: 731
Spring graduates: 480
Winter graduates: 222
Summer graduates: 29
Youngest graduate: 19
Oldest graduate: 72
Percent from Buncombe County: 32%
Percent from Western North Carolina: 52%
Percent from the Piedmont: 31%
Percent from Eastern North Carolina: 5%
Percent from out-of-state: 10%
Number of states, excluding North Carolina: 19
Number of countries, excluding the U.S.: 7
Most Popular Majors (based on primary major)
Health and Wellness: 7%
Literature and Language: 7%
Mass Communication: 6%
Management & Accountancy: 6%
Online video: Streaming video of the Commencement Ceremony is available via this link.
Photographs: Information from GradImages regarding photo purchase will be sent to each graduate, by mail and email.
Video: DVD copies of the Commencement Ceremony will be available 3-4 weeks after the ceremony. Please email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also drop by the TLT desk (Ramsey Library Room 002) and pick up a DVD during regular library hours. DVDs are $5 per copy.