May 7, 2011
More than 5,000 family and friends gathered on UNC Asheville's Quadrangle Saturday morning to celebrate UNC Asheville's 2011 graduating class. Some 691 students were honored as the Class of 2011 during the 83nd Commencement Ceremony, including 447 spring graduates, 212 winter graduates and 32 summer graduates.
Thomas W. Ross delivered the Commencement Address, his first as new president of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system. Prior to assuming his new position in January, Ross had served as president of Davidson College.
Ross told the Class of 2011 that as graduates of "the best public liberal arts university in America … you can write, speak and think with the best of them, and you are well prepared for the adventures ahead." Ross urged the graduates to "seize the opportunity to make a difference, to serve and to lead for the common good … Don't just live, lead. The world needs leaders, and you are ready." Prior to serving as president of Davidson College, Ross had been executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, and judge for the North Carolina Superior Court.
UNC Asheville Chancellor Anne Ponder presented an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree to business and education leader C.D. Spangler, who led the University of North Carolina system as its second president from 1986 to 1997. Chancellor Ponder noted that during Spangler's tenure, he worked to make higher education accessible by keeping tuition low, and that he hired two of the UNC system's first female chancellors. Spangler continues to support education through his philanthropic foundation, which has created dozens of distinguished professorships within the UNC system including several at UNC Asheville. In addition, he has made multimillion-dollar gifts to scholarships and other education-related causes.
Chancellor Ponder also addressed the Class of 2011, recognizing what the graduates have already accomplished. "While many believe that graduation begins the time when people begin to make their marks in the world … your co-curricular activities and community engagement have already made a mark. With all that you have done to this point, it is inspiring to think what you will do tomorrow, next year, and in the decades to come."
Student and Faculty Awards
During the ceremony, three graduates received UNC Asheville's highest student awards. Two top faculty teaching awards were also presented.
Alexandra Neidermeier, of Weaverville, received the William and Ida Friday Award for Community Service. Neidermeier earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Technology with departmental distinction and completed teaching licensure for secondary education in science. She has volunteered more than 900 hours with AmeriCorps' Project Power, which provides enrichment and mentoring services to vulnerable youth. She was also one of the lead organizers of the annual UNC Asheville Holiday Head Start party for more than 100 Asheville-area children.
The A.C. Reynolds Award and the Thomas D. Reynolds Prize for Leadership and Campus Service was presented to Lee Doyle of Belzoni, Miss., who majored in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. She earned Latin honors and departmental distinction, and has served in the Center for Diversity Education, as chair and student advisor for the UNC Asheville Alliance, and as a member of the Multicultural Student Organization Council. She also volunteered with a variety of off-campus service programs.
Miranda Taylor, an International Studies major within the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, was named recipient of the Manly E. Wright Award, which is presented to the student first in scholarship. She completed minors in Asian Studies and Spanish, graduated with Latin honors, departmental distinction, distinction as a University Research Scholar and distinction as a University Scholar. Taylor, of Chapel Hill, has been accepted to four prestigious graduate programs.
Franklin McCain, member of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, accomplished chemist and civil rights pioneer, presented the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching to Sophie Mills, chair and professor of Classics. Mills, who joined the faculty in 1994, was nominated by a committee of faculty. She teaches Greek and Latin language and literature, and Greek history and historiography. She is also co-director of a study-abroad program in Turkey and Greece. Mills received a bronze medallion and cash award.
The UNC Asheville Distinguished Teaching Award for 2011 was presented to Heidi Kelley, professor of anthropology. Kelley, who joined the faculty in 1990, had previously won the Distinguished Teaching Award in the Social Sciences and held directorships of International Programs, and Liberal Arts Learning and Disability Services. She has teaching and research interests in cultural anthropology, gender studies, European and Spanish cultures, Latin America, and humanistic anthropology. Kelley, who had a serious stroke more than a decade ago, also does field work and teaching about the "culture of disability and stroke."
Class of 2011 Facts
Total Number of Graduates: 691
Spring graduates: 447
Winter graduates: 212
Summer graduates: 32
Youngest graduate: 20
Oldest graduate: 61
Percent from Buncombe County: 33%
Percent from Western North Carolina: 52%
Percent from the Piedmont: 32%
Percent from Eastern North Carolina: 5%
Percent from out-of-state: 11%
Number of states, excluding North Carolina: 21
Number of countries, excluding the U.S.: 4
Most Popular Majors (based on primary major)
Literature & Language: 8%
Environmental Studies: 7%
Management & Accountancy: 6%
Photographs: Graduates' photographs will be taken as they receive their diplomas by the Georgia-based company Action International Marketing. In the next few weeks, the photographer will send purchase information to graduates' permanent addresses on file with the University. Images will also be available online or you may go to http://www.mygradphotos.com/ to view and order photographs.
Video: DVD copies of the Spring 2011 Commencement will be available the first week on June. Please email your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also drop by the CITS desk (Ramsey Library Room 002) and pick up a DVD during regular library hours. DVDs are $5 per copy.