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May 24: Bachelor's, master's degrees awarded to 517 students

Monday, May 24, 2010

FREDERICK, Md.--Bachelor's and master's degrees were awarded to more than 500 students and the provost was recognized for his service to the College in two Commencement ceremonies May 22.


President Ronald J. Volpe, Ph.D., presented bachelor of arts and science degrees to 302 seniors at the 10 a.m. ceremony attended by more than 2,000 faculty, staff, friends and family members.


President Volpe called upon the graduates to maintain high standards, "for ultimately your character will be your greatest possession ... and character takes a lifetime to build." He counseled them to "remember life is not a sprint, it's a marathon and you have the right stuff to land that prized position for which you worked so hard."


David Holmes Jr., Ph.D., a leading American religion historian and the premier historian of the Episcopal Church, delivered the Commencement address during the undergraduate ceremony. Volpe awarded Holmes, who has taught at The College of William & Mary for 45 years, an honorary doctoral degree for his lifelong contributions and commitment to learning for the betterment of the individual and society, and to the development of human character.


Holmes, Walter G. Mason Professor of Religious Studies at William & Mary, encouraged the graduates to settle for nothing less than what truly makes them happy, regardless of the expectations of family, peers or society. Instead, citing John Wesley, Anglican cleric and Christian theologian credited with founding the English Methodist movement, and the character George Babbitt from the novel "Babbitt" by Sinclair Lewis, Holmes invited the group to take the time to determine what it is they want to do and, upon discovering that, work diligently to achieve those goals.


Holmes has been recognized for his scholarship, teaching and service to students and the academic community in which he worked. He has written five books, numerous scholarly articles and chapters for journals, books and encyclopedias, and papers on religious history and the liberal arts.


Holmes earned a bachelor's degree in English from Michigan State University, a master's degree in English from Columbia University, master's and doctoral degrees in religion from Princeton University and pursued post-doctoral studies at Union Theological Seminary, Duke University Divinity School and Columbia University.


President Volpe presented an honorary degree to Funk, who will retire June 30 after a 10-year tenure at Hood. "His loyalty, commitment, competence and quiet leadership have benefited those faculty, students and staff who have had the privilege to know and work with him," said Volpe in his tribute to Funk. "Though Bob has held many administrative appointments at a number of different institutions, we at Hood will always claim him as our own. I will miss his wise counsel, his thoughtful deliberation, his steady hand and, of course, his keen sense of humor."


Funk, whose career in higher education has spanned more than five decades at seven colleges and universities, was appointed interim president for one year before serving nine years as the College's provost and vice president for academic affairs. Under his leadership the College added to its curriculum three undergraduate majors, six minors and two certificates, as well as seven master's degrees and four post-baccalaureate certificates. During Funk's tenure the College met two significant academic milestones: an intensive and successful review for reaccreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which accredits degree-granting colleges and universities in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and several locations internationally; and accreditation by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, the premier national teacher education accreditation organization.


Throughout his 55-year professional career, Funk served in the U.S. Army Intelligence and Judge Advocate General's Corps, as an attorney, and in faculty and key senior administrative positions, including assistant dean in the School of Education at Stanford University; dean of the faculty, vice president and dean at Stephens College; provost and president at Cornish College; and interim senior administrative positions at Sierra Nevada College, including provost and chief operating officer, dean of the faculty and acting president. Funk also served as interim president at St. Edward's University and Villa Julie College.


Funk earned a bachelor of arts degree in English and a law degree from the University of Oregon and a doctoral degree in the governance of higher education from Stanford University.


President Volpe, who presented master's degrees to 215 graduates, challenged each of them to "use your talents, your wisdom, your energy and your resources to help restore the character of this great nation." Beverly Swaim-Staley '77, M.A. '82, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation, delivered the Commencement address. President Volpe awarded Swaim-Staley an honorary doctoral degree in recognition of her outstanding dedication and lifelong service to the residents of the state of Maryland.


Swaim-Staley, who has devoted her career to improving the lives of Maryland citizens, urged the graduate degree recipients to continue learning throughout their lives, to surround themselves with key people who will help them achieve excellence, to savor every step along the path to success and to treasure the journey more than the destination.


Swaim-Staley is responsible for the operations of the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Maryland Transit Administration, the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Maryland Port Administration and the Maryland Aviation Administration. The Hagerstown, Md., native also serves as chairman of the Maryland Transportation Authority, chairman of the Maryland Port Commission and chairman of the Maryland Aviation Commission.


In her more than 12-year career with MDOT, Swaim-Staley also served as acting transportation secretary, chief financial officer, twice as deputy secretary and executive director of the Maryland Aviation Administration.