Andrew Hutton, internationally renowned bagpiper, led his fellow Houghton graduates on a farewell march as a class around the campus quad on Saturday, May 12 as part of Commencement 2018 festivities.
This symbolic journey parallels the one that many of these students first took four years ago when they arrived on campus, thus making this community their own.
The Class of 2018 represents 20 countries, from as far as Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, Jamaica, Nepal, and Venezuela. The 261 graduates include 12 online graduates, 20 Associate of Arts recipients, 233 bachelor’s degree students, and eight master’s degree graduates. Of the 261, 27 students are graduates of the Houghton College Buffalo program.
Valedictorian Emma Carpenter (Savannah, NY) and salutatorian Rachel Zimmerman (Waxhaw, NC) led the academic honors, which also includes 26 summa cum laude, 38 magna cum laude, and 35 cum laude recipients.
This year’s speaker, Richard J. Mouw, is a 1961 graduate of Houghton College. He has had a distinguished career in the world of higher education, first as a philosophy professor at Calvin College, then as a professor, provost and president of Fuller Theological Seminary As president emeritus, Mouw now also serves as professor of faith and public life at Fuller. In addition to editing the Reformed Journal, he has written more than 20 books, including Uncommon Decency: Christian Civility in an Uncivil World and Adventures in Evangelical Civility: A Lifelong Quest for Common Ground.
Mouw encouraged the graduates to remain “surprised by joy” and engage the life of the mind. “I challenge you – I urge you – to go forth from this campus as agents of God’s surprises,” he remarked. “We need a generation of Christians who have strong conviction but who have learned to be gentle and reverent as you serve the Lord on what we know to be holy ground.”
Mouw was presented with the Houghton Medal, an honor bestowed on individuals who embody the commitments and aspirations at the heart of a Houghton education. President Mullen’s citation praised Mouw for “serving as the host and convener of dialogues that others are too afraid to initiate, and all toward the end of replacing division and suspicion with greater mutual understanding, surprising discoveries of shared purposes, and a potential for partnership in the promotion of the common good.”
Senior Emma Steele announced the gift from the class of 2018, a circle of bench swings installed near the iconic Houghton Rock. The gift, she noted, is intended to serve as a “reminder of the oneness of this community, and will be a place to be together and grow in relationships.”
The president’s commendation of Mouw for “modeling a life of fearless and generous hospitality in the name of Jesus Christ in a world that needs grace-filled spaces more than ever” communicated also her aspirations for the members of the class of 2018 as they continue their journeys.