Greenville University honors the class of 2023
Published: May 17, 2023
Greenville University honored the 291 members of the Class of 2023 last weekend at a Baccalaureate service Friday night and an outdoor Commencement ceremony Saturday morning.
Though forecasts of rain had threatened to move the Commencement ceremony indoors, the rains held off long enough to allow the event to be held on Hogue Lawn at 10 am Saturday. Later that afternoon, however, storms dropped more than three inches of rain on the Greenville area.
In addition to receiving their diplomas, graduates heard two speeches during the weekend – the Baccalaureate message from Assistant Professor of Chemistry Scott Pattenaude and the Commencement address from Rev. Dr. Fraser Venter, a former California pastor and current strategist for the Free Methodist denomination.
The University also presented awards to several students and announced its outstanding faculty member of the year.
• Receiving the President’s Citation Award for highest academic achievement were twin brothers, Daniel and James Kessinger of Troy, IL (pictured at right). Daniel is graduating summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and a concentration in mathematics. James is also graduating summa cum laude, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics. In presenting the award, Chief Academic Officer Kathy Taylor praised Daniel as “an outstanding secondary education math major who places students at the center of his teaching.” Similarly, James’ adviser, Professor of Mathematics George Peters, called him “one of the best students I have ever had.” He added: “His keen intelligence and his strong work ethic make a powerful combination. He thrives in the face of a challenge.”
• Madison Schaubert of Salem, IL (pictured at right), was awarded the President’s Award for Character and Service. She is graduating magna cum laude, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education. One nominator said of Schaubert: “She jumped in as a transfer student who received the Women in Leadership full-tuition scholarship. She immediately started to lead the group, welcoming women of all ages, planning events that would grow the group in character and service, always willing to serve, reaching out to the women in the most authentic, Christ-like way.”
• Also recognized was Claire Krober (pictured at right), who earlier this year was selected by the Lincoln Academy of Illinois as a Lincoln Laureate. The award honors senior students from throughout the state for excellence in academic work as well as involvement in extracurricular activities.
• Receiving this year’s Outstanding Faculty Award was Theology Professor Robert Munshaw (pictured at left). A native of Canada, he attended Greenville University, and has been teaching at the institution for the past 11 years. In addition to being an ordained Free Methodist minister (and pastor of Christian education at St. Paul’s Free Methodist Church in Greenville), he holds three master’s degrees and a doctorate. Before returning to GU, he served as a full-time pastor for 12 years.
Students nominate professors for this award, and many cited Munshaw’s impact on their life and faith. “He is an amazing teacher, but an even better friend and companion,” said one. “Munshaw is my favorite professor,” added another. “I hope everyone has an experience with Munshaw at least once in their time at GU; he will become one of your best friends and will make you a better follower of Christ.”
Commencement Weekend activities began with a concert by the GU Choir on Friday. That was followed by the traditional Ivy-Cutting ceremony (pictured in top photo), and the Baccalaureate service, where Dr. Pattenaude (pictured at left) noted that he came to GU in 2019 with members of the Class of 2023 and grew with them during the past four years. In his address, titled “Exploring the Beauty of God’s Creation Through Action and Inaction,” Pattenaude referred to the Biblical account of two sisters, Martha and Mary, who welcomed Jesus into their home (Luke 10: 38-42). Martha was preoccupied with the details of hosting him, while Mary chose simply to sit at his feet and listen.
“When I started teaching here,” Pattenaude said, “I was asked to define the integration of my faith and my teaching. At the time, I wondered ‘How can I teach students to be Christian chemists?’ But as I pondered the story of Martha and Mary, I came up with three questions: How can we sit at the feet of Jesus? How can we see beauty in our study of science? How can we pursue our studies differently after we’ve invited Jesus into the process?”
Saturday’s Commencement ceremony on Hogue Lawn began with the help of three sets of twins in the Class of 2023. Emily and Abigail Reinneck presented a prayer of invocation. Then Daniel and James Kessinger, along with Eli and Isaiah Atkins, read several scripture verses.
The speaker, the Rev. Dr. Venter, told students that he had a simple message for them: “You are loved.”
That truth, he said, can change the landscape of one’s life. But even more transforming than being loved by family and friends, he said, is being loved by God.
“God tells us over and over in Scripture that he loves us,” said Venter (pictured at left). “And his love can’t be duplicated by the world; he loves you radically different than the world. He doesn’t love you based on your behavior. He loves you and you can’t change his mind. His love perpetuates, and is the catalyst to so much more. Share it with the world.”
Following the Venter’s address, diplomas were distributed to the bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates, and the ceremony concluded with the GU “Alma Mater.”