December 18, 2010
More than 2,000 family and friends gathered on Saturday morning to celebrate UNC Asheville's newest graduates. Some 207 students were honored during UNC Asheville's third annual December Commencement Ceremony, which was held at the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium.
Early in the program, UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder addressed the graduates and closed with a reminder. "Please know that while you may find yourself far away from UNC Asheville," said Chancellor Ponder, "we will always hold you close in our hearts."
Daniel S. Pierce, UNC Asheville history professor, department chair, and winner of the University's 2010 Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award, gave the commencement address and distributed an unusual gift to each graduate – an acorn from his yard. Pierce contrasted different types of trees, and urged the graduates to embody the characteristics of the oak. Oaks, said Pierce, "are extremely hardy, put down deep roots, don’t split easily… and produce a wonderful seed—the acorn—which is a favorite food of wildlife."
Pierce continued, "Keep on thinking like an oak as you continue your life. Consider the long term; take the sustainable path; nurture deep relationships with family, friends, and with the religious, social, and educational institutions that have blessed you in life... Cultivate oak values in your life. While these are decidedly old-fashioned, their importance has not diminished since the dawn of human history: integrity, kindness, charity, honor, stewardship, tolerance, selflessness, humility, and, most importantly, love."
A reception for graduates and their families was held in the Civic Center lobby following the ceremony.