GEORGETOWN, KY – Emotions ran high on a cloudy and cool morning as family and friends gathered this past Saturday on the lawn of Giddings Hall to watch members of the Class of 2013 receive their undergraduate degrees. A ceremony marking the beginning of the next stage in life’s journey for over 260 students, it was also Dr. Bill Crouch’s last Commencement after 22 years as President of Georgetown College.

President Crouch delivering the 2013 Commencement address

President Crouch delivering the 2013 Commencement address

Dr. Crouch delivered the Commencement address, making his favorite Biblical passage one of the key tenets of his speech. Citing Proverbs 3:27 which reads “Do not withhold good from those who deserve it when it is in your power to act,” President Crouch told students the verse was intended for each one of them as they go forward with their degree and the power with which they are enabled.

Set to retire on June 30 as Georgetown’s 23rd president, Dr. Crouch congratulated the students on their liberal arts education, telling them they were prepared “for a life full of opportunities” through the lessons learned “in leadership, sacrifice, compromise, relationship and teamwork.”

Senior Speaker Evan Harrell challenging classmates

Senior Speaker Evan Harrell challenging classmates

Middlesboro native Evan Harrell was chosen by his classmates to deliver the senior address. He urged fellow graduates to follow the Georgetown College motto of “Live. Learn. Believe.” Through numerous lighter comments and references to events mutually understood by students, he challenged them to “never stop . . . never stop learning, never stop changing, never stop growing.”

Another highlight of the ceremony was the annual presentation of the Don and Chris Kerr Cawthorne Excellence in Teaching Award. Established in 1988, it is the College’s highest recognition for teaching excellence. This year’s recipient was Rick Kopp, professor of Biology, described by a nominator “as a teacher who can convey . . .  warmth, respect, and encouragement to students with a single comment.”

Cawthorne Excellence in Teaching Award presented by President Crouch and Provost Allen

Cawthorne Excellence in Teaching Award presented by President Crouch and Provost Allen

“The word that comes up again and again for this year’s winner is the word “love”—how he loves his job, loves his students, loves his subject, loves learning,” remarked Rosemary Allen, Provost, before presenting the award to one she described as truly kind, gentle and humble. “He loves challenging students in a difficult discipline and making THEM love it as much as he does. He values active hands-on learning, and he finds ways to speak to each student in a way that (the) student can understand.”

Natalie Jane Hymer, an Ecomomics/Spanish major from Louisville, received the President’s Award.

President's Award winner Natalie Jane Hymer with President Crouch

President’s Award winner Natalie Jane Hymer with President Crouch

“Natalie has proven to be active and involved in a variety of campus organizations, discovering the richness of diversity and the energy that comes from serving others,” said President Crouch in announcing the selection. “She has exemplified all that is right about being a Georgetonian and has shown impressive maturity, vision, and dedication throughout the years spent on campus. I am convinced that this year’s award winner will enjoy even greater success in the future as she helps change the world.”

Cheers and applause greeted graduates as they were announced and stepped forward to be congratulated by Provost Allen and handed the hard-earned diploma by President Crouch.

Photos: Wesley Folsom, Class of 2015

Classmates and other audience members react to Senior Speaker Harrell's remarks

Classmates react to Senior Speaker Harrell’s remarks