Close search

Baldwin Wallace University celebrates 173rd Spring Commencement

On a picture-perfect spring day, members of the pandemic-forged Class of 2023 crossed the finish line to degree completion with cheers and high-fives, hugs and happy tears.

Baldwin Wallace University marked the momentous milestone of college graduation - both an ending and a beginning for 600-plus graduate and undergraduate students - on Saturday, May 6, in the Lou Higgins Recreation Center.

The decked out Ursprung Gymnasium hosted a multitude of family, friends, faculty and staff, applauding the achievement of each graduate.

The academic customs, pomp and pageantry started with the first clear notes of a trumpet fanfare that signaled the regalia-draped processional and ended with the singing of the alma mater and a closing prayer for the graduates.

In between, each member of the Class of 2023 was called by name to take a triumphant walk across the stage as friends and family cheered, and BW President Bob Helmer offered personal congratulations.

Journey through the pandemic

Commencement speaker Paul Clark

Graduates also heard an inspiring commencement address by BW alumnus and trustee Paul Clark, MBA '81.

The retired regional president for PNC Bank in Cleveland noted the "singular and extraordinary experience" of the undergraduate Class of 2023 as "the only class that faced the challenges of the COVID pandemic through all four years of your time here on campus."

He noted that the resilience, caring and kindness forged along the way will serve the graduates well. "Whatever you encounter in the future - a future that each of you will define for yourself - lean into your BW experience and continue to be resilient, caring, and especially, kind," Clark advised.

Straight A's and Honors

BW Trustees at Commencement

Special recognition for high-achieving members of the Class of 2023 included the prestigious Milton T. Baldwin Prize, given to the graduate with the highest academic achievement at BW.

This year's award went to Christopher Anthony Chang, who posted a perfect 4.0 grade-point average, taking all courses at BW and earning a Bachelor of Arts: Political Science.

A number of factors go into choosing the winner in addition to GPA. In fact, there were a dozen BW undergraduates who worked their way to straight A's. Students also earning a perfect 4.0 were: Payton Elaine Cole, Skylar Rae Sakonyi, Tay Elizabeth Baer, Regan Helen Olak, Andrew James Blankenburg, Justin Thomas Blankenburg, Daniel Robert Rittgers, Claire Evelyn Theisen, Kerrigan Emily Ponsart, Sarah Nichols and Lee E. Walters.

An impressive number of undergraduate students also graduated with Latin honors: 80 earned summa cum laude recognition with a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 or higher; 85 graduated magna cum laude with at least a 3.75; while another 67 earned cum laude honors with at least a 3.60.

A group of 85 students was recognized as elite Dayton C. Miller Honor Society members, while 18 students who completed the BW Honors Program were applauded.

Super Seniors

Ring of ribbons

Ten graduates were recognized as 2023 Outstanding Seniors for overall excellence and contributions to campus life, including academics, leadership, service and involvement on and off campus.

The 2023 graduating seniors acknowledged for demonstrating excellence in all areas of their University endeavors are: Isabel Andrews, Elizabeth Cole, Grant Cordle, Cory Dulemba, Jacob Dunstan, Mateo Gonzalez, Nayab Khan, Regan Olak, Madeline Robinson and Cole Thompson.

Senior Class President Christina Vitakis added the class colors of orange and ivory onto the ring of ribbons, a BW tradition since 1915, and led fellow graduates in an "Aww Jackets" cheer.

Other Grad Day Gatherings

White Rose ceremony honorees

Before the "main event," commencement day began with the traditional baccalaureate service with music and readings by students and faculty and words on the theme "Be True" by Dr. Lewis Sage.

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.

The White Rose Ceremony took place outside on the steps of Strosacker Hall, honoring 27 graduating women who have contributed to the BW community and best exemplify the values of BW. White Rose has been a tradition at BW since 1894 in memory of Philura Gould Baldwin, who began the university's first library.

Video replay and photos

Watch two graduates, Cole Thompson and Emily Lakatos, along with BW Career Center director Patrick Keebler, in a WEWS-TV commencement day report detailing how BW prepares grads for real-world careers.

Watch the video replay of the entire ceremony:

Media Contact

More News

BW wins two national awards for opera productions

BW faculty-student research shows dramatic changes in NE Ohio forests

BW students prevail at US Department of Energy CyberForce Competition