TWC celebrates 155th Commencement

Posted on: April 23, 2012

It's that time again. The highlight of the academic year, Tennessee Wesleyan College's 2012 Commencement ceremonies will be the college's 155th and will span three days and three events.

It’s that time again. The highlight of the academic year, Tennessee Wesleyan College’s 2012 Commencement ceremonies will be the college’s 155th and will span three days and three events.

The celebration of academic achievement begins Thursday, May 3 at 7 p.m. when TWC’s Fort Sanders Nursing Department hosts its Senior Convocation and Pinning Ceremony for more than 60 2012 nursing graduates. The ceremony will be held at Cokesbury United Methodist Church, located at 9908 Kingston Pike in Knoxville, Tenn.

Following Thursday’s pinning ceremony is the college’s Baccalaureate service which will be held Friday, May 4 at 8 p.m. in Townsend Memorial Hall at the Athens, Tenn., campus. This year’s Baccalaureate sermon will be given by Joseph Eldridge, a university chaplain and adjunct faculty in the School of International Service at American University.

TWC’s three-day celebration will conclude Saturday, May 5 at 9 a.m. when more than 240 graduates walk across the stage at Commencement. The ceremony will be held in TWC’s Nocatula Gardens and will honor the classes of 1952 and 1962 as Golden Anniversary Alumni. Saturday’s Commencement speaker will be Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association.

Baccalaureate Speaker Joseph Eldridge has spent more than twenty-five years working in the public policy arena as an advocate and analyst for international human rights and humanitarian issues. During the mid-1980s he worked in Honduras consulting on human rights and development issues and in 1991 he established the Washington office of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights.

After a three year sojourn in Chile in the early 1970s, Eldridge co-founded the Washington Office on Latin America and served as its first director.  He has a master’s degree in International Relations from American University, a master of divinity from Perkins School of Theology at SMU and a doctor of ministry from Wesley Theological Seminary.

Commencement speaker Dr. Claude Pressnell, Jr. is a native of Kansas and has spent more than 25 years in higher education administration. He began his career at Southwest Baptist University in Missouri as an admission recruiter and within a year advanced to the position of Senior Director of Admissions and Student Development. He holds a doctorate in higher education administration/educational leadership from Vanderbilt University. While attending Vanderbilt he served as the Director of Financial Assistance and Assistant Professor of Religion at Belmont University.

In 1995 Pressnell served as the Founding Executive Director of the Institute for Family Studies in Colorado. He then returned to Tennessee to become the Executive Director of the Tennessee Foundation for Independent Colleges and since 2000 has served as President of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association. In 2003 the United States Senate appointed Pressnell to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance where he served as Vice Chair from 2007 until his second and final term expired in 2008.

Pressnell serves on numerous international, national, and state level boards. He also serves as an international advisor on higher education reform in the Middle East, the Balkan region of Europe and South America. He is currently advising the Iraqi government on institutional accreditation and quality.

In the event of inclement weather, Saturday’s Commencement will be moved to McMinn County High School’s gymnasium and will begin at 10 a.m.  An announcement will be posted on the college’s website and Facebook page and updated through local radio stations.