Commencement at Bethel traditionally places high emphasis on family.
As in the past several years, members of each graduate’s family were invited to stand and be recognized when he or she walked across the Memorial Hall stage to receive the diploma. On May 20, at Bethel’s 114th Commencement, the auditorium was packed with everyone from the 121 graduates’ own small children to younger siblings to proud, camera-carrying parents to uncles, aunts and grandparents.
Another long-standing tradition is that of having parents of graduating seniors offer the opening and closing prayers for the Commencement ceremony. Vern Rempel, pastor of First Mennonite Church in Denver, gave the invocation. His son, Jess, graduated with a degree in art. Jelena Maksimovic came all the way from Belgrade, Serbia, to offer the benediction and watch her son, Djordje Maricic, earn degrees in communication studies and German.
This year, the “family affair” extended into the class of 2007 in the form of four faculty/staff-child pairs: Paul Lewis, professor of psychology, and his daughter, Emma; Jon Piper, professor of biology, and his son, Josh; Chuck Regier, curator of exhibits at Kauffman Museum, and his son, Abe; and Ada Schmidt-Tieszen, professor of social work, and her daughter, Tina. Emma and Tina are following in parental footsteps so far, earning degrees in psychology and social work, respectively. Josh’s degree is in music and Abe’s in chemistry.
Commencement speaker E. LaVerne Epp, Lawrence, Bethel’s president from 2002-05, gave a warm, intimate address in which he recalled some of his favorite moments with the class of 2007, including a “trick-or-treat in reverse” Halloween prank and regular pizza nights in one of the mods.