Wilmington College Cincinnati had 45 graduates among the 303 degrees conferred at the 139th annual Commencement May 9. That included 16 grads from the satellite campus at Blue Ash and 29 from the degree completion program at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College. Laura Cousino from Blue Ash and Tom Hottle from the Cincinnati State program received “Distinguished Student” recognition while Theresa Moon and Carrie Hatfield shared reflections at the Senior Banquet. Stacey J. Roper, who spoke at the Commencement ceremony on behalf of Cincinnati graduates, mentioned the challenges facing nontraditional students wishing to complete their degrees while holding full-time jobs and having a family and children. “Today, I stand here, now 42 years old, proclaiming that there is nothing in this world that you cannot do. The road of a nontraditional student is not an easy one, but it can be done. We are proof of that fact. We worked long hours at our jobs, pressed our way to class every night, took care of our families and we did the work. The nontraditional student successfully accomplished this! Yes, you did it! We did it!”
Iris Kelsen likened herself to this year’s graduating seniors as the 2015 Commencement marked a milestone in her life as it did in theirs. “I’m completing my 27-year journey at Wilmington College, just like you are,” she said at the Senior Banquet. After joining Wilmington College Cincinnati in 1988, Iris quickly assumed various leadership roles, first becoming the director of Cincinnati Branch in 1989, dean of Cincinnati Branch in 1991, associate vice president for academic affairs/dean of Cincinnati Branch in 1997, and finally vice president for external programs in 2005. Under Iris, Wilmington College was at the forefront of adult education and degree completion programs in Cincinnati. Timely and innovative two-plus-two degree completion programs were set up with local community colleges in early childhood education and business administration. In addition, the Cincinnati programs had a very successful run with the Accelerated Leadership Program. Consider this: most of the more than 1,500 graduates from the Cincinnati programs received their bachelor’s degrees while Iris was at Wilmington College! Sylvia Stevens, interim vice president, described her as both “a colleague and mentor.” Stevens said, “Because of Iris’ trust in me, I developed greater confidence in myself to face each new challenge as I progressed through various positions at the College. Iris always modeled a strong belief in the value of the services that we provided to adult learners and she worked tirelessly to enhance our offerings so that they were relevant to adult students.” Bernie Matt, professor of religion & philosophy/English, added, “Iris has been a remarkable woman to work with, always willing and able to cooperate with faculty, working on improving academic programs, majors and teaching.” President Jim Reynolds added that he found in Iris “a true partner, someone who cared so much about what we do here.”
Bob Sandman and Brian Snowden, assistant professors of business administration, earned the students’ choice award for this year’s “Outstanding Faculty,” which was announced at the Senior Banquet. They received this distinction among the 16 faculty members nominated. Sandman, who has been a part or full-time faculty member for 25 years, spoke of being inspired by his students’ tenacity, inquisitiveness and quest for learning, while Snowden, who joined the Blue Ash faculty full time in 2007, challenged the graduates to, “Take that learning and try to make this a better society.”
Watch for new onsite Wilmington College programs in Strategic Organizational Leadership at Southern State-Mt. Orab and Chatfield College-Findlay Market in spring 2016 and fall 2016, respectively. Strong transfer histories between these institutions and Wilmington College are at the heart of these agreements. See progress reports at www.wilmingtonway.org.
By now all Cincinnati Branch alumni should have received an invitation in the mail for a special Wilmington College Cincinnati alumni event at Verona Vineyards on Saturday, June 20, from 3 to 7 p.m. The insert in the invitation provides additional details about this get-together. Bring a guest for wine-tasting, good food, music and fun! We are excited too that President Jim Reynolds and his wife, Sue, will be at this event. So, let’s party at Verona Vineyards, 13815 Walton Verona Road, Verona, KY 41092 (www.vernonavineyards.com). RSVP (your name and number of guests) by June 15 to Sylvia Stevens via text at 513.549.6865 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.