Speaker Urges “Leaps of Faith;” Faculty Awards Given

Commencement speaker Samuel Keen asked some 410 seniors to take a “leap of faith” during the 140th Commencement Ceremony May 10 on the front lawn of the College.

The philosopher, author and trapeze artist is a 1953 Ursinus alumnus, who said the ceremony was a “homecoming” for him. He asked the graduates if they were ready to “leap into the life that is calling you.” Dr. Keen, who received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, told the graduates that they have to come to their own definition of vocation. He recalled that he did not enjoy a career in academia, and left to write and ask questions. “Vocation is a promise that is coiled up in your DNA,” he said. “Are you ready to leap into the life that is calling you?”

Msgr. Michael Doyle, who was the Baccalaureate speaker May 9, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree. He encouraged the graduates to have courage, which is “not the absence of fear,” he said, and to have compassion. “Heroes and cowards feel the exact same fear but heroes respond to it differently,” he said. Father Doyle is the pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Camden, N.J., and a community leader and activist.

At the Commencement, three faculty members were recognized for their teaching, scholarship and mentoring. The Laughlin Award for outstanding scholarly work, endowed by Henry P. Laughlin, M.D., Class of 1938, was given to Associate
Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science April Kontostathis.

The H. Lloyd Jones Jr. Award for Excellence in Mentoring and Advising, established to honor Lloyd Jones, a member of the English department from 1947 through 1988, was awarded to Associate Professor of Education John P. Spencer. 

The Lindback Award for Outstanding Teaching was awarded to Associate Professor of English Rebecca Jaroff.

President Bobby Fong addressed the graduates to close the ceremony. “There will be challenges,” he said. “But the liberal education in which you have immersed yourselves here will serve you well. You have learned to deal with ambiguity. You have learned to discern truth from foolishness. You have learned to gather evidence and make rational decisions based on what you have learned. No matter what your path, these skills will serve you well.”

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