Salem, VA - Author and higher education expert George Keller advised Roanoke College graduates to "be the Rembrandt of your own soul" during Roanoke's 163rd commencement ceremony. Roanoke College awarded Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees to 375 graduates-Roanoke's second largest graduating class. Graduates are from Virginia and 27 other states. The Class of 2005 includes two sets of twins and two Palestinian students. This is the first Roanoke Commencement for Dr. Sabine U. O'Hara, president of Roanoke College.
Jenna Zamesnik, from Norfolk, earned the top honor of valedictorian and gave a Valedictory Address during the commencement ceremony. Zamesnik is a history and religion major and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and earned her degree with honors, summa cum laude. Kellie Stewart, a business administration major from Buchanan, earned Salutatorian honors and received her degree summa cum laude.
Rev. Paul Henrickson, Dean of the Chapel, gave the sermon at the annual baccalaureate ceremony, prior to commencement. Henrickson spoke to the graduates about "Staying Connected" and used his cell phone during the sermon. He first took a call and then called several graduates in the audience, finally taking a picture of one graduate using his cell phone. His sermon was titled "Staying Connected" and he encouraged students to stay connected to the larger world and to God.
Lois Lee is an adult student graduate and her grandfather worked at Roanoke College from 1911 to 1953. As part of his job, he rang the bell for classes. In 1954, the college built a Bell Tower on the Back Quad and dedicated it to Henry Hill. The original bell used by Hill in the mid-1900s (and frequently stolen by pranksters) is still used in college ceremonies, such as commencement.
Hanan Dahche and Khaled El-Nemr are Palestinian students educated at two United Nations schools in Lebanon. Both graduated cum laude. Dahche earned a bachelor of science with a major in biochemistry. El-Nemr also earned the bachelor of science with a major in mathematics and physics. Both plan to pursue graduate degrees. Dahche has said she hopes to earn the Ph.D. in biochemistry and return to Lebanon to teach.
George Keller, of Baltimore, Maryland, received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. In his commencement speech, he called on graduates to see themselves "as a work of art-in progress." "More than any other time," he said, "you are free to invent yourselves, to shape your life as a sculptor might shape a block of wood or hunk of marble. Chip away on your character, keep enlarging your mind, and never stop searching for a worthy life of work, love, and service. Be the Rembrandt of your own soul. I believe you can. I hope you will.
Keller is highly respected as a scholar, author and teacher. His knowledge of Roanoke College is illustrated through his book about Roanoke, A Prologue to Prominence, to be published later this year. Keller has written over 100 articles, book chapters, and reviews. One of his most famous books, Academic Strategy: The Management Revolution in American Higher Education (1983), was named by Change and The New York Times as the most influential book of the decade. He has also served as the editor of the journal Planning for Higher Education from 1990 to 1997.
Keller received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University, where he served as a faculty member and college dean. He also chaired the program in higher education studies at the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. He has received many awards throughout his career. The most notable awards are The Atlantic Monthly's Education Writer of the Year award, a Newsweek award for
exceptional reporting and the Founder's Award from the Society of College and University Planning for "distinguished achievements in the field of education planning." In 2003, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) presented him with the James L. Fisher Award for "distinguished service to education."
Roanoke College, the country's second oldest Lutheran-related college, is an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college. Roanoke is one of just 270 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor societies. Roanoke College is listed in U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges Guide as a national liberal arts college. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the mid-Atlantic." Roanoke's 1,850 students represent 41 states across the U.S. and 25 foreign countries.
For additional information, contact the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.