At Commencement ceremonies on May 18, North Carolina Governor James G. Martin told 1,096 graduating seniors that “this is the last of your springs … now comes the millenium.”

Martin urged the graduates to prepare to face the millenium by continuing to study, preserve and defend western civilization. He told them to study western civilization “because it is ours, and because the ideas and beliefs that regulate our lives come from western civilization.” He also said that “we must understand our political, social and economic history” to understand society. Furthermore, Martin said, it is important to study western civilization because it is good. He said that western civilization has produced the best form of government — a representative democracy — and that freedom and equality are the basis for both democratic government and western civilization.

Martin told graduates that they must preserve western civilization because it “provides guidance in our fundamental choices … and answers questions like ‘what is good?’ and ‘how shall I live my life?’” Martin also said that western civilization must be preserved because it “fosters discussion and dissent and they, in turn, provoke progress.”

And, finally, Martin said that everyone should defend western civilization because a defense of western civilization is also a defense of the equality and dignity of human life. “Satchel Paige used to say that you couldn’t steal second if you kept your foot on first too long. It’s time for you to make the dash. Just don’t get picked off.”

Before the bachelor’s degrees were awarded, University President Thomas K. Hearn Jr. awarded five honorary degrees:

  • Businessman Bert L. Bennett, a former member of both the College Board of Visitors and the University Board of Trustees, received the Doctor of Laws.
  • Sculptor Selma Hortense Burke received the Doctor of Fine Arts.
  • Eloise Rallings Lewis, professor emerita of nursing at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and adjunct professor of nursing at the Bowman Gray School of Medicine, received the Doctor of Humane Letters.
  • Governor Martin and Chowan College President Bruce Ezell Whitaker (’44) both received the Doctor of Laws.

As is traditional at Commencement, retiring faculty members from both the Reynolda and Hawthorne Campuses received citations recognizing their contributions and service to the University. Vice President for Health Affairs and Executive Dean of the Bowman Gray School of Medicine Richard Janeway presented a citation to Professor of Medicine Charles L. Spurr.

University Provost Edwin G. Wilson (’43) presented citations to:

  • Professor of Religion George McLeod Bryan (’41, MA ’44),
  • Professor of Management Robert S. Carlson,
  • Professor of English Thomas F.Gossett,
  • Professor of Sociology William H. Gulley,
  • Professor of Chemisty John W. Nowell (’40),
  • Professor of Education and Romance Languages John E. Parker Jr. (’40),
  • and Professor of History Percival Perry (’37).

Professor of Radiology Damon D. Blake and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Frederick A. Blount received citations in absentia.

On Sunday, May 17, Richard Groves, pastor of the Wake Forest Baptist Church, preached the baccalaureate sermon in Wait Chapel. He told his audience that our times call for the presence and input of people who are not simply competent and moral but good. He defined good people as those who are sensitive, compassionate and sympathetic, and urged graduating seniors to be good people.

Published in Wake Forest Magazine.