More Than 400 Participants Mark Lincoln University’s 158th Commencement

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LINCOLN UNIVERSITY, Pa. – More than 400 students donned their caps and gowns to process through the heart of Lincoln University’s campus and turn their tassels becoming graduates during the 158th Commencement.

While clouds threatened rain overhead and a cool breeze blew, friends and family made their way to the lawn facing the Thurgood Marshall Living Learning Center and lined the route to greet the platform party, faculty, and graduates for a 10 a.m. scheduled ceremony start time.

In a departure from recent years when the event was held in the stadium, this year no tickets were required for the outdoor ceremony because seating was plentiful. All but a handful of rows of the 5,500 chairs were filled.

Interim President Richard Green welcomed those gathered and those watching live online and introduced Kimberly Lloyd, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees. She began her greetings by leading the jubilant graduates in the traditional “LU” cheer.

Olutoyin Olowookere, president of Student Government Association, introduced the Commencement speaker and one of two honorary degree recipients, Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., who is the president and chief executive officer of TIAA. TIAA is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields and a Fortune 100 financial services organization.

Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., the president and chief executive officer of TIAA, gives the Commencement address at Lincoln University on May 12, 2017, and received an honorary degree. Photo by Bob Williams.

Ferguson told the students that change is not something to be afraid of. “It’s simply the natural order of things, and it has been that way since the beginning of time.”

To introduce his three pieces of advice for learning to navigate change successfully, Ferguson used President John F. Kennedy quote, “Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

His first advice was to be a continuous learner. Ferguson spoke of his experience at the U.S. Federal Reserve System where he was hired as a lawyer and worked his way up to the Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors. As the only governor in Washington, D.C. on 9/11, he led the Fed’s initial response to the terrorist attacks, taking actions that kept the U.S. financial system functioning while reassuring the global financial community that the U.S. economy would not be paralyzed.

He told the graduates that when he was first hired at the Federal Reserve — even though he had already achieved professional success — “I checked my ego at the door and joined with the mindset that I had a lot to learn. My first year or so, I saw myself as a student of my new organization. I got to the office early and stayed late, so that I could read everything that crossed my desk.”

Next he told graduates to view their career “as more of a climbing wall than a ladder.”

“Don’t be afraid to change course if that’s what your heart is telling you to do. Take advantage of opportunities that come your way, and be willing to take reasonable risks. A more flexible approach can be extremely rewarding on both a personal and professional level.”

His final piece of advice was to tell graduates to steel themselves “for success by building their financial knowledge,” reminding them that financial well-being is not about the size of your salary.

Instead he said it is about knowing how to save, invest, and use credit wisely.

He told graduates he was “optimistic about the future” because of graduates like them and new college graduates across the nation. He reflected that during the course of his lifetime that he has experienced just how transformational education can be.

“I was three years old when the Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board of Education ruling declared segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. Progress was slow. I attended a segregated elementary school, but by middle school I was able to enroll in an integrated magnet school in my hometown of Washington, D.C. As a nation, we have made progress in expanding educational opportunity, but it’s clear that there remains a great divide between those on the path to success – like all of you – and those being left behind.”

In addition to Ferguson, an honorary doctorate was awarded to Kenneth E. Scott, the president and chief executive officer of Beech Companies.

Kenneth E. Scott, the president and chief executive officer of Beech Companies, receives an honorary doctorate at Lincoln University's Commencement on May 12, 2017. Photo by Bob Williams.

Kenneth E. Scott is well known throughout the Philadelphia region for his support and commitment to community service. His work has produced comprehensive development in the areas of business, education, finance, media, housing, philanthropy, real estate development, and technology.

Perewari Victor Pere, a native of Igbedi, Nigeria, gave the valedictory address. Pere, who earned a 4.0 grade point average in computer science, told graduates “I loved the Lincoln experience.”

He told graduates to create their own future “instead of waiting for it to unfold.”

“Leave a legacy behind just like the ones you met, but even greater than that, discover yourself.”

Perewari Victor Pere, a native of Igbedi, Nigeria, gives the valedictory address at the Lincoln University Commencement on May 12, 2017. Photo by Bob Williams.

Perewari illustrated his point by using the life of Joseph. “It was the life of a dreamer.” he said.” “One who knew where he would be, but had no idea what the process would look like.”

He told graduates to turn and look at all the people in the crowd. “There are people who have sacrificed beyond measure to make sure we are better than they are now. There are those whose dream is that you be something. That is enough motivation to continue on your dreams and to continue with the fire and passion for it.”

Graduates of the three colleges were called to the stage by name to receive their diplomas. The ceremony concluded with a group induction into the Alumni Association of Lincoln University by organization’s president, Robert L. Ingram, and the concert choir leading the crowd in the Alma Mater.

A baccalaureate service was held the evening before Commencement in the International Cultural Center on campus featuring an address by Reverend Evelyn Kent Clark ’74, pastor at New Life United Methodist Church in Drexel Hill.

The Commencement Program can be found online and the Commencement Information page here.

Article by Shelley Mix, Office of Communications & Public Relations