Dr. Schwab's Final Commencement Speech

Welcome to our celebration honoring the entire Centenary community.

As many of you know, Centenary just celebrated 100 years in the Shreveport-Bossier area. It has been an honor to serve during this anniversary, and I am proud to see how far the College has come in the brief 18 years that I’ve been here. I remember my first commencement ceremony in this Dome; now I get to celebrate the end of my tenure with you, the accomplished women and men whom we honor today. When I realized that next years entering first year students were born in 1991, the year I came to Centenary as President, I decided that could be a sign it was time to retire! So I leave the College in your capable hands, honored to finish my presidency with the distinguished Class of 2009.

Today, we faculty, staff, students, family, and friends honor the Class of 2009 at Centenary College. You have entered the Gold Dome today as candidates for graduation, but you will leave here as esteemed alumni. Congratulations.

As undergraduate or graduate students of Centenary College, each of you has made an unforgettable mark here, but none of you has done that alone. Every paper you wrote, every presentation you made, every meal you ate in the caf, every service project you joined—you were always surrounded by a community. Join me in thanking those who made today's celebration possible:

First, the Board of Trustees of Centenary College. These men and women provide wise counsel and generous support that establish our strong foundation. Will the Trustees please rise? Thank you for your leadership. I value your friendship and the College depends on your continued loyal support.

Second, the faculty and staff of Centenary College. These educators continue to keep the highest academic standards, working collaboratively with students to create true scholarly excellence that brings fine recognition to the College. And our staff works throughout the year to keep this institution functioning and beautiful. Will the faculty and staff please rise? Thank you for your scholarship and service. It has been my privilege to serve alongside you.

Third, your family and friends who helped you make it here today: family members who paid the tuition and drove the moving trucks, friends who took the late-night calls. They have encouraged and supported you, especially during these recent years of undergraduate or graduate studies. Many of them are also alumni of the College. Let's show them our appreciation as well.

As most of you know, I will retire as president of Centenary College this summer, and I would like to take this opportunity to share some brief thoughts with you as I leave this role.

I was inaugurated as president of Centenary in August 1991, which means I have enjoyed 18 Presidents Convocations, 18 Rhapsody weekends, 18 Christmas Candlelight services, 18 Homecomings, and, now, 18 commencements. Then there were the countless Board meetings and faculty meetings, 7:30 am breakfasts with the Maroon Jackets, basketball games, and gatherings with students. We have dedicated new buildings, increased the endowment, strengthened the faculty, and graduated many Ladies and Gents who now serve this world with wisdom and grace.

I know—more assuredly now than ever—that the success of a college like Centenary depends not so much on the person in the presidency but on all of you:

-The faculty who labor in the classrooms every day,
-The staff who has worked behind the scenes to make sure everything runs properly,
-The Trustees who make leadership decisions on behalf of the college,
-The students who study and play hard, bringing acclaim to this college,
-And you, alumni who continue to represent the ideals of Centenary College in your workplaces and who give back to your alma mater.

You all are the foundation of this college, and Centenary depends upon you. Thank you for making my job such a delight.

Now, as I lay down the mantle of the presidency, I look forward to remaining a part of the faculty as a professor. When I entered college administration long ago, I always dreamed of one day returning to the classroom and ending my career there. It will be an honor to teach alongside these fine folks and to remain a part of Centenary for years to come. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for this fine college.

I count it a privilege to have served the faculty, staff, Board, and, most of all, the students and alumni of Centenary College these past 18 years. As our alma mater says, "my heart will love thee ever." Thank you for making me a part of this community.

God bless you all, especially our honored Class of 2009.

Share |