Faculty the focus of commencement speech

Christopher Brownell, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Mathematics and STEM Education, Program Director, Mathematics Education
Billie Jean Wiebe, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Communication & English, Program Director, Communication
Ron Pratt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Program Director, Applied Mathematics B.S.

Bachelor's degrees went to approximately 260 undergraduate students and master's degrees to about 70 students in morning and afternoon ceremonies in the Special Events Center on the main campus.

Herma B. Williams, Ph.D., provost and academic vice president, gave the address:

"Acting Boldly: Honor Requires Responsibility."

God has honored them with this commencement, Williams told graduates, so they must act boldly and responsibly in the community, region, nation and world. To prove faculty are examples of this action, she read student statements about five:

  • Chris Brownell, mathematics. "He taught us how the concept of number theory displayed God's supremacy and his order in the world."
  • Dean Gray, accounting. "When I got a job offer I think you were more excited than my parents."
  • Billie Jean Wiebe, English and communication. "I was able to take risk because (she) created a safe space."
  • Ronald Pratt, mathematics. "Last spring, I began a year-long math and physics project with him and I am thankful to him for giving me the opportunity."
  • Lorin Neufeld, computer science and interim dean of the School of Natural Sciences. "(He) always has an open door; he listens carefully and launches into a great discussion."

These and other faculty have prepared graduates to show the biblical boldness and responsibility of Esther, who approached a king, and Hannah, who gave Samuel to God, Williams said. "The question for you today is: 'Are God's plans your plans?'"Traditional undergraduates from 10 countries graduated with degrees in 43 majors and emphases. The top three majors were liberal studies, business administration and psychology. Master's degrees went to students in 12 areas of study and degree-completion students in five programs.

Pulkit Sawroop Bose received the Harold H. Haak Award for Academic Achievement and Marin Canaday earned the award for highest grade-point average. David Youngs, mathematics education faculty, was given the Nickel Excellence in Teaching Award.

Williams joined FPU August 1, 2006. The Fulbright Scholar and Kellogg Foundation and Ford Foundation fellow earned her bachelor's and master's from Southern Illinois University, her Ph.D. from Iowa State University and completed post-doctoral studies at Harvard University.Graduates also enjoyed several receptions. The event for African American students was May 4. The graduate, traditional undergraduate and degree-completion receptions were commencement day.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations