category: Campus News

C-N Graduate Program Commencement includes First MBA Cohort; Dr. Gene Wilder delivers address

Taking Charge – Family Nurse Practitioners Krystal Killom and Eva Huntsman were among 56 to be awarded a master’s degree at C-N’s graduate program commencement May 11. Dr. Gene Wilder delivered the address before Dr. Randall O’Brien conferred degrees. (Photo by GradImages)

C-N President Randall O’Brien conferred 56 master’s degrees during Carson-Newman College’s graduate commencement exercises on May 11. The evening ceremony at Jefferson City’s First Baptist Church included 11 MBA graduates of the program’s charter class.

FBC pastor and 1973 C-N alumnus Dr. Gene Wilder addressed graduates and explained the price one must pay to reap success.

Having asked what success entails, the pastor opined that a combination of five elements yield success. Invoking “persistence” as the first attribute, he said, “Success comes to those who are persistent, to those who are in there ‘for the long haul,’ to those who refuse to quit even when circumstances seem insurmountable.”

He recalled a favorite story of author John Killinger about a Texas horse rancher who – rather than waste physical energy and court emotional stress – would tie a wild horse to a burro. Once released, the stallion would take off for the open range with the less than enthusiastic beast of burden in tow. In just a couple or three days, however, the tables would turn and the burro would return to the ranch with a docile stallion bringing up the rear.

“There’s no question that the horse is stronger than the burro,” smiled Wilder, “but in the end, the burro becomes the leader, not because he’s stronger, but because he’s more persistent.”

Noting that success is not possible in a vacuum, Wilder said, “I believe genuine success is never achieved without placing a priority on relationships.” He cited Proverbs 15:17, where “the sage reminds us, ‘Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fattened ox and hatred with it.’ Yes, no one is truly successful unless he or she can share their success with those who genuinely care.”

Calling integrity “the embodiment of truth,” he cited the 1987 state basketball championship that Georgia’s Rockdale County High School in Conyers, Georgia briefly held. Within weeks of his team’s first title, coach Cleveland Stroud realized that a third-string player, who had been on the court only 45 seconds in a preliminary contest, was in fact academically ineligible. He self-reported the situation and RCHS returned the trophy to the state athletic association.

Wilder said the state legislature later passed a resolution that championed the example Stroud set. “The Georgia House of Representatives considered Stroud a success, not because he won the championship but because he paid the price of integrity, because he was true to self. Yes, ‘integrity’ is always included in the price of success.”

Extolling the virtue of commitment, the minister noted a salesman who failed to keep several appointments. Pushed to frustration, he suggested that the church establish a policy of only doing business with those “who keep their promises,” only to be told by the church administrator, “Then we wouldn’t do business with anybody.”

The fifth element in paying the price for success is excellence, said Wilder.

“Excellence is not a product, he said. “It’s a way of life, a way of life that refuses to offer anything less than our best.”

Citing Paul’s exhortation, “In everything you do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord” (Colossians 3:23), he told the story of Broadway lyricist Oscar Hammerstein’s realization that every feature of the Statue of Liberty’s hairstyle was exact. Designer Frédéric paid attention to everything. Wilder quoted the composer as saying, “As I looked at the detail I realized that the sculptor never envisioned people seeing the statue from overhead. Nevertheless, he still did his best, not for others, but for himself.”

“The Price of Success – Persistence, Relationship, Integrity, Commitment and Excellence,” concluded Wilder. “The price is neither cheap nor easy, but those willing to pay it will enjoy the fruit of success.”

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