A celebration. There’s no other word for it… Clayton State University celebrated its 10th fall Commencement during its 40th Anniversary on Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009.
Led by Interim President Dr. Thom
as J. “Tim” Hynes, Jr., the University’s dual ceremonies celebrated the achievements of both the largest group of
students to take part in fall Commencement, and the University as a whole.
In addition to representing several milestones in the history of the University, including the first dual speakers for a Clayton State Commencement, the afternoon and evening ceremonies were marked by a positive, upbeat tone primarily set by Hynes, who was presiding at his first Clayton State graduation.
The speaker at the 4 p.m. ceremony was Jerry Wilson, board-elected senior vice president of the Coca-Cola Company. In addressing graduates of the Coll
ege of Health, the College of Information and Mathematical Sciences, and the School of Business, Wilson helped set the tone for Commencement, telling the 180 graduates, “You owe society your very best. There are no limits to your ability to make a difference. Do not succumb to the gloomy headlines of 10.2 percent unemployment. Creative relationships will lead us out of the current situation and society needs new thinking and new approaches to the issues. As Gandhi said, `be the change that you want to see in the world.’”
Wilson also quoted Martin Luther King, “
A genuine leader is a not a searcher of consensus, but a molder of consensus,” and David Thoreau, “Live the life you’ve imagined,” before closing with, “Welcome to the world of possibilities.”
The second ceremony, held for the College of Arts & Sciences, included the largest group of graduates ever in a single graduation in the Athletics & Fitness Center – a total of 241. Brenda Hill Cole, judge of the State Court of Fulton County, spoke to this packed hou
se. Quoting from the Book of Galatians on sowing seeds and harvesting same, she noted that, “Generations to come may benefit from what we have done… The world needs you, what kind of harvest will you have?”
Cole specifically noted that there are three “seeds” to “plant” for a successful harvest… dreams, hard work, and service.
“If you never have a dream, you’ll never
have a dream come true,” she said. “Success is to know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived.”
Cole also quoted King… “Everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.”
Wilson’s and Cole’s emphasis on greatn
ess and success fit in well with Hynes’ message to the graduates. Establishing a “new practice” for Clayton State graduations, Hynes followed both speakers by sharing with the audience, “some of the wonderful achievements of the faculty, staff and students of Clayton State University.” These included; a record enrollment, new academic programs, collaboration with local school systems, the many accomplishments of Spivey Hall, the School of Business’ Supply Chain Management programs helping attract NCR to relocate to Georgia, the founding of new honors societies on campus, four new books published by faculty members, growing international partnerships, and the nationally-ranked men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“Together, we are poised for greatness
. The name of Clayton State University and the name on your diploma are linked together,” he told the graduates. “As the stature, recognition and accomplishments of the University increase over time, so does the value of your diploma.
“As the honor and greatness of Clayton State increases, so to does your honor and greatness.”
Hynes also encouraged the graduates and the audience to celebrate that greatness, encouraging both full houses to cheer for their graduates after the degree conferrals, specially noting those graduates who were HOPE scholarship students, first generation college graduates and members of various honors societies. Hynes then asked the graduates to applaud for, in order, their parents, spouses, grandparents, children, brothers and sisters.
Besides celebrating the University’s 40th Anniversary, the 2009 fall commencement also marked the 10th Anniversary of Clayton State’s first fall graduation ceremony, held on Dec. 11, 1999, with then-Interim President Michael F. Vollmer presiding.