ATHENS — For 330 Concord University students in two sessions, a new life began for them Saturday as they received their degrees during the 144th Spring Commencement ceremony at the Carter Center.
CU President Dr. Kendra Boggess said that the graduating class had 256 undergraduates degree candidates and 74 graduate degree candidates, 91 graduating with institutional honors and 11 with honors in their field. Those graduates came from 16 states and nine countries and ranged in age from 19 to 61.
Co-valedictorian Mistie Richmond, from Mount Hope participated in the 10 a.m. ceremony as a graduate, plus had a son graduating from Meadow Bridge High School and her daughter-in-law Laurie Richmond graduating in the 2 p.m. ceremony.
“We’ll always be here to welcome you back,” Boggess said.
After her opening remarks, there was a moment of silence for those in the Concord family who had died during the semester, including Boggess’ husband and Princeton architect Edward “Ted” Boggess.
Other speakers at the ceremony included David Barnette, President of the Concord Board of Governors; CU faculty President Dr. William Williams, Concord Alumni Association, President Susan Tuck and Concord Student Government Association President Hailey Fields.
Richmond said, “We’re all on the journey. Work hard, be forgiving and count your blessings.”
Co-valedictorian Hannah Painter of Shady Spring said, “When times are hard, reflect on the fact that nothing has stopped you so far.”
Co-valedictorian Madison White of Roanoke Va. said, ‘Encourage people to give higher education a chance.”
Painter received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree, Summa Cum Laude. Her teaching field is Elementary Education K-6. Richmond received a Bachelor of Science in Education degree, Summa Cum Laude. Her teaching field is Elementary Education K-6. White received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree Summa Cum Laude. Her concentration is Management.
The morning ceremony also saw Concord alumnus Robert W. Tuckwiller receive an honary doctorate in Humanities.
Tuckwiller is well known as a talented and prolific landscape painter. He received a bachelor’s degree in art from Concord in 1976, and has been a successful professional artist since 1981.
His original paintings depict the peacefulness and simplicity of rural life and reflect the pastoral countryside’s quiet beauty. Acclaimed as a realist, Mr. Tuckwiller draws upon the mountains and farms of his native Greenbrier County in West Virginia and his current surroundings in Newport, VA for his award-winning artwork.
Mr. Tuckwiller’s work can be found in more than 30,000 private and corporate collections throughout the United States and abroad. He has sold several thousand original paintings, and a good portion of the more than 100 signed and numbered limited edition prints he has released are now sold out and available only on the secondary market.
He is a Virginia General Assembly Honoree, a member of the Greenbrier East High School Hall of Fame, and a recipient of BlueRidge Country magazine’s Best Mountain Artist Award. The Concord University Alumni Association honored him with the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2005.
Mr. Tuckwiller received a Master of Arts degree in Liberal Studies in Visual and Performing Arts from Hollins University in 2012.
The 2 p.m. ceremony featured Linda Poff, Concord class of 1976, receiving her honorary doctorate in humanities.
An admired and respected educator, Linda Poff served for more than three decades as a classroom teacher in Mercer County, working with third, fourth and fifth graders. After retiring from full-time work, she continued to serve as a substitute teacher. She has also taught as an adjunct at Concord.
Ms. Poff’s enthusiastic teaching style and her dedication to promoting geographic literacy are hallmarks of her successful career. Through endeavors with the National Geographic Society and the West Virginia Geographic Alliance, she coordinated the West Virginia Geographic Bee at Concord for eight years and brought several of the society’s giant traveling maps of continents to campus for interactive learning fun.
She is a recipient of the prestigious Milken Foundation National Educator Award and other significant honors including the National Council for Geographic Education Distinguished Teaching Award and Mercer County Teacher of the Year. The Concord University Alumni Association honored her with the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2015 and the Golden Alumnus Award in 2017.
She earned a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Salem University, and returned to Concord to earn a master’s degree in Education with a Specialization in Geography Education.
The afternoon ceremony also featured speeches from co-valedictorians
Emilee Ann Brundage of Princeton, WV, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree Summa Cum Laude. Her major is Advertising/Graphic Design, Studio Art. Morgan Brooke Elmore of Princeton, WV, who received a Bachelor of Science degree, Summa Cum Laude. Her major is Psychology and Amy LeeAnne Lusk of Corinne, WV, who received a Bachelor of Science degree, Summa Cum Laude. Her major is Chemistry, Pre-Pharmacy.