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LRU holds commencement ceremonies on all three campuses
LRU holds commencement ceremonies on all three campuses

Inaugural Commencement for Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia

In May Lenoir-Rhyne University held commencement ceremonies on three campuses in two states, with over 290 students receiving graduate and undergraduate degrees.

It was the inaugural commencement for LR's Center for Graduate Studies of Columbia, South Carolina, which opened its doors in the fall of 2014. The ceremony was held in conjunction with LR's Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS) at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, in Columbia. A total of 19 students received diplomas.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was The Rev. Dr. Marcus Joel Miller, who served as President Emeritus of LTSS for six years between 2006 and 2012. Honorary degrees were bestowed upon U.S. Congressman, James E. Clyburn, who received a Doctor of Humane Letters degree and Dr. Carl F. Schalk, who received a Doctor of Divinity degree.

When the center opened in the fall of 2014, it brought LR's Clinical Mental Health Counseling program to a third location and added an additional fully online Human Services program to the list of degree options. Both programs are service oriented and consistent with the University's mission of providing a Christ-centered, caring community. The Center is housed on the garden level of Beam Hall on the LTSS campus, which received a major renovation prior to opening.

On LR's main campus in Hickory, North Carolina, more than 220 undergraduate students received bachelor degrees. In addition, two prominent leaders were recognized with honorary degrees. The University bestowed upon Neill R. McGeachy, Jr. an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and Bishop Timothy M. Smith, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree.

At the Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville 51 graduates of the Class of 2016 received diplomas. Graduates began the ceremony by processing through downtown Asheville, beginning at Vance Monument, sharing the celebratory event with business leaders and community members. The Center presented its first Honorary doctorate degree to William Amherst Vanderbilt Cecil, Jr., President and CEO of The Biltmore Company. LRU Board of Trustees member, Joe McGuire presented the Doctor of Humane Letters degree to Cecil.


Honorary Degree Recipients


LTSS/Columbia Campus

The Rev. Dr. Marcus Joel Miller – keynote speaker

As President Emeritus for LTSS, Dr. Miller worked tirelessly to improve the preparation of women and men for public ministry, built and worked with a capable team to strengthen the financial position and the reputation of the seminary, and shepherded the seminary through the process of the ground-breaking merger with Lenoir-Rhyne University.


At the seminary's commencement service on May 11, 2012, the LTSS Board of Trustees bestowed upon Dr. Miller the John Bachman Award for his distinguished leadership and significant contributions to the seminary. The Bachman Award is the premier honorary award of the seminary.

Dr. and Mrs. Miller have two children, Jennifer Miller Erickson and the Rev. Joshua Miller, and five grandchildren: Abigail, Andrew, Jessie, Elijah, and Lucy.

James E. Clyburn

As Assistant Democratic Leader in the 114th Congress, the number three Democrat in the House, Clyburn is the leadership liaison to the Appropriations Committee, one of the Democratic Caucus' primary liaisons to the White House and Chair of the recently formed House Democrats' Democratic Outreach & Engagement Task Force.

As a national leader he has worked to respond to the needs of America's diverse communities. He championed rural communities supporting the development of regional water projects, community health centers, and broadband connections. He has supported higher education by leading the charge for increased Pell grants; investing millions in science and math programs and historic preservation at historically black colleges and universities.

Dr. Carl F. Schalk

Dr. Schalk, teacher, musicologist, composer, and author, is Distinguished Professor of Music Emeritus at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. Dr. Schalk was called to Concordia University in 1965 where he taught graduate and undergraduate courses in church music until 2004. While at Concordia, Schalk was instrumental in beginning the Master of Church Music program, which produced roughly one hundred and forty graduates serving throughout the church.


Dr. Schalk has served as lecturer and clinician at numerous church music workshops and pastoral conferences. He was the editor of Church Music between 1966 and 1980, and in 1978 he served as a member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, Hymn Music Committee, which prepared the Lutheran Book of Worship. He is a Fellow of the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada and was made an Honorary Life Member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.