Clarke University’s 174th Commencement was held on a beautiful day on Saturday, May 13. Clarke awarded 257 degrees at this commencement: 178 Bachelor’s degrees, 27 Master’s degrees and 52 Doctoral degrees.
Senior Valedictorians Ellen Funke and Theresa Koos addressed the graduating class.
Funke’s message to graduating seniors was to embrace change.
She said, “Be open to change as you leave Clarke and go out into the world. We have spent four years learning from the best professors, the friendliest staff, and the coolest peers. Now is the time to live boldly, and put into practice all that we have been studying, researching and learning.”
She also reflected on how much Clarke has embraced change over the past years, from becoming coed to recovering from the devastating fire to changing to University from College, to now adding lacrosse and football.
Koos spoke about the strong bonds and sense of community at Clarke. She lauded her professors, advisors, coaches and conductors who helped her learn lifelong lessons and grow as a person.
“As we continue to move forward, some to grad school, some to work, I encourage you to continue building on your Clarke support system,” she said.
“Class of 2017, as you expand your family of support, remember to value personal relationships and carry forward the Clarke tradition by acting as a supporting community member for others.”
A student, a faculty member and a staff member were given special awards at the ceremony as well. Senior Natascha Myers won the Francis J. O’Connor Memorial Award. The most prestigious award bestowed upon a graduating senior, this award is based on the demonstration of leadership, cooperation, generosity, kindness and academic achievement.
The Meneve Dunham Award for Excellence in Teaching, the university’s highest award for outstanding teaching, was given to Professor of Spanish Evelyn Nadeau. Finally, Assistant to the President Megan Stull was awarded the Rose O’Toole Staff Recognition Award. This award is given annually to acknowledge outstanding achievements that impact institutional success and/or contribute significantly to the mission of Clarke.