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Fall 2021 Baldwin Wallace University Graduates Pledge to Make a Difference

Mobile phone lights shine in the waning moments of commencement after windy weather caused a power outage.Nearly 300 Baldwin Wallace University undergraduate and graduate students celebrated the completion of their degrees at Fall Commencement on Saturday, Dec. 11 in Ursprung Gymnasium in the Lou Higgins Center with a focus on the future.

Although a windy afternoon knocked out power out in the final minutes of the ceremony, the proceedings wrapped up with all graduates called on stage, the last few in the glow of auxiliary-powered lighting and mobile phone flashlights twinkling in the stands.

Inspirational words and action

Fall 2021 Commencement Speaker Richard 'DIck' Fletcher used a Stinger prop in his address.Richard "Dick" Fletcher '70, MBA '76, who served under five BW presidents during his nearly 50 years of employment at BW (decades in senior VP roles), delivered a keynote address that challenged graduates to "make a difference."

With poignant stories of family members who put others first, Fletcher said, "If we each do our part and choose to make a difference, then there is still hope for our future." After encouraging each graduate to pledge, "I will make a difference" as they were called on stage, Fletcher followed his words with action.

Tossing a small spongey BW mascot into the rows of graduates, Fletcher vowed, "Whoever ends up with Stinger, I will personally contribute $500 to the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in your name so that some people in need will have food for the Christmas holidays."

He then turned to BW President Bob Helmer and challenged the University to match the gift in honor of all the fall 2021 graduates. President Helmer immediately agreed and pledged an additional personal match.

Fletcher received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree for his own impact at BW and in the community.

Celebrating student achievement

The ceremony also included special recognition for high-achieving undergraduates who graduated in three categories of honors: 22 earned summa cum laude recognition with a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 or higher; 11 graduated magna cum laude with at least a 3.75, while another 23 earned cum laude honors with at least a 3.60. A group of 25 students inducted into the elite Dayton C. Miller Honor Society and Honors Program were also applauded.

After a formal conferring of degrees, each graduate's name was called and they received a personal congratulations from President Helmer when they walked the stage to the cheers of proud family and friends.

With the traditional turn of their tassels, the newly minted grads take their place among thousands of BW alumni or "Yellow Jackets for Life."

Baldwin Wallace Commencement Traditions

Adding class colors to the ring of ribbons is a longstanding BW tradition.A final longstanding commencement custom rounded out the ceremony as the Senior Class added distinctively colored ribbons to the "ring of ribbons." The ritual ties BW grads together from generation to generation and includes the colors of every graduating class since 1915.

Prior to the "main event," BW commencement day began with the traditional Baccalaureate in the Boesel Musical Arts Center.

The service included music and readings by students and faculty, and remarks on "Dinner Table Wisdom" by BW School of Business professor Pierre David.

Baccalaureate was followed by the President's Reception in the Strosacker Hall union ballroom, where all graduating seniors and their families, faculty and staff were invited to mix and mingle, snap photos and enjoy heavy appetizers and desserts.

Photos and Live Stream Video Replay


Look for additional photos on BW's Instagram, Facebook and Flickr pages.

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