C-N to Hold Two Commencement Exercises Friday, May 11
Carson-Newman College will confer more than 340 degrees during a pair of graduation exercises Friday, May 11. Undergraduate commencement will be in Burke-Tarr Stadium at 9 a.m. and graduate program exercises will be held at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of Jefferson City’s First Baptist Church.
Dr. Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, will address some 270 undergraduates and Dr. Gene Wilder, pastor of FBC, Jefferson City, will speak to 73 students who have completed one of C-N’s graduate programs.
Wheelan, the first African American and the first woman to lead the Commission on Colleges, has spent almost 40 years in higher education. She has served as faculty member, chief student services officer, campus provost, college president and as Secretary of Education for the State of Virginia.
Following the receipt of her bachelor’s degree from Trinity University in Texas, with a double major in psychology and sociology, she earned the master’s degree in developmental educational psychology from Louisiana State University. She used her doctoral program in educational administration at the University of Texas at Austin to focus on leadership in community colleges.
She has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the Distinguished Graduate Award from both Trinity University and the College of Education at UT-Austin, Washingtonian Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, DC and the AAUW Woman of Distinction Award.
She holds and has held membership in numerous local, state and national organizations including Rotary International; Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; the American College Testing, Inc., board of directors; American Association of Community Colleges’ board of directors; and the President’s Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs.
Wilder, a 1973 C-N graduate, earned the MDiv from Southwestern Baptist Theological, in Fort Worth, Texas, and the DMin from Louisville’s Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Prior to joining FBC, Jefferson City in 2002, he led Fitzgerald, Georgia’s First Baptist Church. Other church staff experience includes working with youth, leading music and holding pastorates in Maryland and Virginia. His denominational experience includes serving on the executive committees of the Georgia Baptist Convention and the Baptist Convention of Maryland, on Mercer University’s advisory board, as a trustee of Truett-McConnell College and on the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s Coordinating Council.
He has volunteered at the local level with the Heart Association, led the Rotary Club in Fitzgerald, and has served on C-N’s International Steeple Committee. Recognized as Pastor of the Year by the Macon (GA) Baptist Association in 1998, he has also been lauded for writing with the Golden Pen Award by the Macon News, and as a columnist by the Georgia Press Association.
His wife, Pat, also a 1973 C-N graduate, is a mathematics specialist for Jefferson County Board of Education. The couple has two married children and three grandchildren.
Two graduation-related events are set for Thursday, May 10. The commissioning ceremony for ROTC cadets will be held at 9:30 a.m. next to Douglas Lake on Wild Pear Trail. The annual pinning ceremony for C-N nursing graduates will be held at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary of FBC, Jefferson City. For more information, contact Academic Affairs at 865-471-3219.