Oskaloosa.com

May 13, 2013

Penn graduates hear encouraging words

By ANDY GOODELL
The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Students, their families, and William Penn University faculty gathered at the Penn Activities Center Saturday morning to help celebrate the graduation of the Class of 2013.

During her introduction of commencement speaker Dr. Melvin Oliver, William Penn President Dr. Ann Fields noted that he was a 1972 graduate of Penn. She said he earned his master’s degree and PhD. from Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

Fields also noted a few other accomplishments of Oliver’s including the fact that he was named SAGE Sara Miller McCune Dean of Social Sciences and Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

“Dr. Oliver believes that people — all people — if given the freedom and the confidence in themselves, can solve their problems around them,” said Fields.

Oliver addressed the crowd by first discussing his experience at Penn, which he said provided him with important intellectual tools for life. He said the same is true for the graduating Class of 2013. He said that when he was at Penn, he was motivated by a group of teachers who forced him to think logically and creatively. He said this lead him toward his career as a sociologist and teacher.

Oliver said that students graduating from Penn will have the skills not only for their first job, but for a world that is changing all the time, which they must be able to adapt to.

During his commencement address, Oliver would go on to note the fact that the world is “getting smaller” with new technology enabling people to be in contact.

While at Penn, Oliver said he was also able to expand his social horizons by giving him the opportunity to interact with people from many different areas.

Prof. Robert Barnes Jr. was conferred with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at Saturday’s graduation ceremony.

Fields said Barnes has been with Penn for 52 consecutive years. She noted his role as the resident photographer for Penn, taking photos at numerous university events on a regular basis.

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Herald City Editor Andy Goodell can be reached at news2@oskyherald.com.