The first graduating class of Castleton University passed across the stage at its 229th Commencement ceremony on Saturday, bringing to close the 2015-16 academic year. Captain Richard Phillips addressed the more than 3,500 guests in attendance and thousands more streaming the ceremony live online. Phillips spoke of unwavering personal strength, focus and determination, and the importance of living every moment to the fullest.
With 533 graduates, this marks the largest class in Castleton's storied history.
“Today you are not ending your education, today the real education begins. It started in Castleton but will not end here. Do more than what is asked for, go beyond the expected, and do it earlier than desired,” said Phillips. “I congratulate you, the class of 2016, on your graduation, your personal accomplishments, and I will remind you that it is the journey you will remember more than the destination.”
Castleton President Dave Wolk began the proceedings with a transformative Mace Bearers ceremony. Honorary Mace Bearers, each respective school graduates, personified the various stages the institution has passed through since its founding year 1787.
“Last summer, we evolved into a modern, vibrant university that is proud of its history, represented by these distinguished alums, and excited about its future,” explained Wolk.
As has become tradition, President Wolk continued by announcing the recipients of several distinguished awards. Nursing Department Chair and Professor Leah Matteson was awarded the Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award, which is given annually to a faculty member whose excellence in teaching influences students well beyond graduation. Cassie Papandrea was honored with the Leonard C. Goldman Distinguished Senior Award, an annual honor given to the graduating senior who has excelled in and out of the classroom, contributed to community service, and served as an example to others. Professor Matthew Moriarity, part-time faculty member in Sociology, was awarded the Endowed Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award, which honors one of Castleton’s many dedicated, highly competent part-time faculty.
Lastly, Professor Cathy Kozlik was awarded the Richardson Faculty Award for 2016, an award given once every three years to shine a light on a terrific professor with remuneration of significant value.
Class of 2016 President Colleen Kunz, also addressed the standing room only crowd. She reminded her fellow classmates of the many ways Castleton has shaped them, both academically and personally, and encouraged all to carry on the Castleton Way far beyond the campus boarders.
“My advice for you is to make the next chapter of your life as amazing as your chapter at Castleton University,” finished Kunz.
Once all the degrees had been conferred to the largest class in history, President Wolk brought the day’s largest cheer by exclaiming: “You have made a difference at Castleton. Now go out and make a difference in the world. Ladies and gentlemen…the Class of 2016.”