In a ceremony boasting U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Timothy the Turtle, and plenty of proud moms celebrating Mother’s Day, the 305 members of Beloit College’s class of 2013 received their degrees. The 163rd commencement exercises took place under sunny skies on the lawn between the college’s iconic administration building, Middle College, and a half-dozen ancient Indian mounds.
President Scott Bierman opened the ceremony by welcoming graduates and their families. Prior to his remarks, he was joined by the puppet Timothy Turtle, under the guidance of graduate Anthony Bostler, who offered a special welcome to the mothers in attendance and shared a hug with the senator.
On a more serious note, Bierman told the graduates that Beloit did not come ready made. “You made Beloit yours,” he said. He read excerpts of essays by seven students who explained what they learned at Beloit and how they used their education to transform themselves.
“One of the biggest lessons I learned from my time here is to take charge of my path,” said Kelsey Kettelhut of Northbrook, Ill.
In a turtle reference, Alice Mitchell also of Northbrook, Ill., said, “I have come out of my shell a lot during my time at Beloit.”
Bierman said the Beloit class of 2013 graduates will look back, knowing that Beloit was a college tailored by their choices and the energy they expended, and that the meaning and substance of their education was made by them.
“Of the 1,812,000 bachelor degrees awarded in America in 2013, only 305 will be Beloited,” Bierman said. “It is a great day to be Beloited.”
“You and I can make enormous progress together”
Baldwin served as the 2013 Commencement speaker, as unanimously voted upon by the senior class officers. The newly installed senator, who has represented the Beloit community since 1999, encouraged the graduates to confront the problems they will go on to face while making their mark on the world.
“Yes, we have big problems to solve and, yes, there are days when they seem insoluble, but I am confident that you and I can make enormous progress together,” Baldwin said.
“The Beloit Spark”
Senior Hannah Warren from Amherst, Mass., delivered the class address, telling her fellow graduates that Beloit is a place where, if you ask for what you want and really try, you can usually succeed.
“Wherever each of us is headed next is sure to be incomparable to Beloit, but we need to keep channeling the energy,” she said. “We need to remember that energy, the Beloit spark, the same phenomena that brought curious, imaginative and adventurous people here in the first place.”
Student leaders, guests and employees honored
In addition to conferring the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees upon the class of 2013, the college honored Baldwin and two alumnus with honorary degrees.
Baldwin was presented with a Doctor of Laws degree by Catherine Orr, professor and chair of women’s and gender studies.
“This U.S. Senator−our U.S. Senator−doesn’t shrink from difficult situations or hide from disagreements or differences of opinion,” Orr said.
Ed Hoerr’57 and Dick Niemiec’65, both former interim presidents of the college, were awarded honorary degrees as well. Hoerr, one of three alumni in Beloit’s 167-year existence to have led Beloit, received a Doctor of Humane Letters. Niemiec, a current member of the board of trustees and also an alumnus, also received a Doctor of Humane Letters.
Also during the ceremony, emeriti citations were presented to Economics Professor and Director of Entrepreneurship Jerry Gustafson’63, Vice President for Administration John M. Nicholas, and Chemistry Professor Brock Spencer.
Finally, Jason Busack from Cottage Grove, Wis., was awarded the college’s Blue Skies Award and Elizabeth Chiquoine from Reedsburg, Wis., won the Martha Peterson Prize.
The Warren Miller Blue Skies Award, named for a Beloit alumnus who is famous for his many New Yorker magazine cartoons, pays tribute to a member of the senior class who helped “foster good cheer, a good-humored perspective, and saving grace in the conduct of our daily lives together on campus.”
Named after Beloit’s seventh president, the Martha Peterson Prize is awarded to a student who best exemplifies the college’s liberal arts traditions as a student and active contributor to the campus community.
Finally, Sarah E. Morgan from Madison, Wis., and Jianing Xu from Shanghai, China, were honored for attaining the highest scholastic standing among the bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degree recipients, respectively.
A recorded version of today’s ceremony is available at the “On Demand” section of the college’s live stream website, www.beloit.edu/live.