One of Emory & Henry College’s two namesakes was a passionate defender of liberty who embodied values that have influenced the College throughout its history and inspire it still today, according to Dr. Thomas S. Kidd, who delivered the 2012 E&H commencement address.
Patrick Henry, a famous orator of the American Revolution and Virginia’s first governor, would “speak with the passion of an evangelical minister” when discussing the topic of liberty, said Kidd, who addressed a large crowd assembled on the south lawn of Memorial Chapel Saturday morning.
An expert on Patrick Henry, Kidd serves as a professor of history at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He also serves as a senior fellow at Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion.
His speech caps a year-long celebration of Emory & Henry’s 175th anniversary, which has included a focus on the college namesakes. During the College’s Founders Day in March, the Rev. Charles w. Maynard (E&H Class of 1977) spoke about Bishop John Emory, the College’s other namesake.
According to Kidd, Henry developed a set of strong values throughout life. This “Son of Thunder” was also the son of rural Virginia who came to symbolize for Emory & Henry a commitment to freedom and civic virtue. Kidd encouraged graduates to carry on this “profound legacy and vision of faith, learning, freedom and civic virtue.”
Kidd is the author of five books dealing with American religious and political history. Last year he published “Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots,” which was dedicated to his late father, Michael S. Kidd, a 1966 E&H graduate. Kidd’s mother, Nancy Saunders Kidd, is also a 1966 graduate of the College
Following Kidd’s address, the College bestowed 176 undergraduate and 28 graduate degrees.
Among the degree recipients were this year’s student orators, including Daron K. Vaught of Rural Retreat, Va., who delivered the undergraduate address, and Jason D. Jones of Greeneville, Tenn., who served as the graduate student orator.
Vaught, who received degrees in mass communications, English and creative writing, reminded students that the inspiration for their understanding was not only their successes as students, but also their mistakes. He encouraged students to not fear uncertainty, because the missteps in the futures could be the lessons on the way to success.
Jones, who received a master of education degree, spoke of the challenges and opportunities in a world being made “flat” by greater access to information worldwide. “We are the potters of the world … We must mold the world as it continues to become flat.”
Also among the graduates were students who received special recognition for academic achievement and service, including P.J. Henson of Southlake, Texas, who received the Byars Medal in Science; Erin Gallagher of White Ridge, Colo., who received the Eleanor Gibson Via Science Award; Elizabeth Wassum of Wytheville, Va., who was the recipient of the Senior Service Award; and Candice West of Bristol, Va., who won the Snavely Scholarship Prize for the highest grade point average.
Vaught and Wassum were also recognized as the recipients of the Outstanding Senior Awards in recognition of their records of campus leadership and academic scholarship.
Dr. Fred Kellogg, an E&H professor of religion, was awarded the William and Martha DeFriece Award. Kellogg, who is retiring at the end of this academic year after 43 years at the College, has distinguished himself throughout his career as an outstanding teacher, mentor to local pastors and those considering the ministry as a vocation. The recipient of numerous college awards for teaching and service, Kellogg served as acting dean of the faculty in 1993-94.
To see more pictures from commencement, please visit the Emory & Henry Facebook page.