PIKEVILLE – Standing before the Class of 2012, a choir of beautiful voices delivered a heartwarming performance of the alma mater, “The Orange and Black,” in a ceremony honoring the academic achievements of 163 students in the College of Arts and Sciences, the first to graduate under the University of Pikeville name.
Sara Osborne of Pikeville was honored as the class valedictorian and Ashley Crutcher of Batavia, Ohio, was recognized as salutatorian during the May 19 ceremony at the East Kentucky Expo Center in Pikeville.
Two individuals were recognized for their contributions in education, government and public service. Rep. Greg Stumbo, speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives, delivered the keynote address and was presented with an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree. Longtime University of Pikeville Trustee William Malone received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Also honored were Howard Roberts, chair of the division of business and economics and the Burlin Coleman Distinguished Professor of Business, and Robert Chamblin, assistant professor of mathematics, who were first- and second-place recipients respectively of the William Wade and Helen Record Walker Teaching Excellence Awards. Special recognition was given to Gene Lovel, professor of economics, who retired from the University. Lovel received a standing ovation during the commencement ceremony, a tribute to his 30 years of dedicated service, his love of the school, its athletics teams and legendary fuzzy dice.
Commencement week activities also included a special ceremony for graduates of the Elizabeth Akers Elliott Nursing Program. Students were pinned by nursing faculty, later reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge against the backdrop of a beautiful candle-lit ceremony. The traditional ceremony dates back to the 1860s and was adopted by Nightingale as a way to honor her most outstanding graduate nurses.
Rachel Hamilton of Teaberry was the recipient of the Elizabeth Akers Elliott Award, selected by the nursing faculty as the student who “best exemplifies the caring compassion and empathy that are the very spirit of nursing.” The award also holds special significance for the family of Elizabeth Akers Elliott, as they established a trust fund to launch a nursing program in her memory. The Elliott family has been faithful in supporting the program since its inception.
The Outstanding Nursing Student Award, an honor bestowed by fellow classmates to the nursing student they would “most like to have care for themselves or their family,” was presented to David Thacker of Pikeville. Megan Stephens of Virgie received the Vivian Day Award, presented to the graduate earning the highest grade-point average in nursing courses.
Three individuals graduating from the University’s ROTC program were commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army. Recognized for their dedication and commitment to the nation were Michael Heiss of Daphne, Ala., active duty field artillery; David Wright of Colorado Springs, Colo., Kentucky National Guard, Engineer; and Brandon Little of Cromona, Ky., Kentucky National Guard, Engineer.