Ewert looks forward in last commencement address

D. Merrill Ewert told the 2012 graduates what he has told every Fresno Pacific University graduating class for a decade: “Commencement is my favorite day of the year!”


What’s significant about Ewert’s May 5 announcement is that this favorite day was his last as a college professor, administrator and president. Ewert, who became FPU president in June 2002 after a career at Wheaton College, the University of Maryland and Cornell University, will retire July 31, 2012. Pete Menjares, a faculty member and administrator at Biola University, will be 11th president.

In his commencement address, “Culture Warriors or Agents of Shalom?,” Ewert looked to the future, urging the new graduates to become society’s leaders. Christians were once at the center of intellectual life and Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other leading universities were Christian institutions, Ewert said.

FPU’s vision of a Christian university is a place where students are prepared for professions and encouraged to explore their faith. “We did not teach you Christian chemistry or Christian math. We looked at chemistry and math through the lens of faith,” Ewert said. “We found meaning and purpose in our lives—eternal hope.”

That hope calls Christians to wear, not the armor of an angry culture warrior, but “the wardrobe of God: compassion, kindness, humility and strength,” Ewert said.

So clothed, Christians are agents of shalom, the Hebrew word whose meanings include wholeness, health, peace and harmony. “Fresno Pacific has an agenda, and you are part of it, to transform the culture by being the people of Shalom,” Ewert said.

In closing, Ewert sent the graduates forth with a blessing that applies as much to his future as theirs:

May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

Ceremonies were on the East Hall Green on the main campus. Commencement for the 158 traditional undergraduates and 89 graduate students, including 20 from the seminary, began at 10:00 a.m. The ceremony for the 280 bachelor’s degree completion graduates was at 6:00 p.m.

Deanna DenHartog received the Harold Haak Award and Laura Jean (Shrewsbury) Dinges the Academic Award. Billie Jean Wiebe, associate professor of communication, was honored with the Nickel Excellence in Teaching (NETA) Award. 

See and hear both commencement ceremonies at http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/fpuadmin.portal

Purchase commencement photos from the photographer at michaelkaribian.com/ At the site, just click on Recent Events, then Fresno Pacific University Commencement 2012.


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