Mount Union Holds 162nd Commencement Ceremony

May 11, 2008

Mount Union College held its 162nd Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 11.

2008 CommencementThe Commencement speaker, Sylvester (Sy) Green ’64, a retired business executive and former chairman of the Mount Union College Board of Trustees, shared his own personal Mount Union story with the 435 graduates of the Class of 2008 and offered valuable advice to his new fellow alumni.

“To the Class of 2008, it is now your turn to make history and you are prepared to do it in so many ways,” said Green.

Green shared how he had chosen to come to Mount Union as one of a small handful of African American students in the early 1960s. He felt that he needed to get a great education and “gain the scar tissue” that would be necessary to prepare him for success in the corporate world.

As a student, Green developed close relationships with history professor, Dr. John Saffell, who served as a mentor and advisor for Green. Also influential was track coach, Jim Wuske. “He enabled us to understand how to deal with the world,” said Green. “He taught us that, with hard work and preparation, we could overcome our obstacles.”

Green also shared the story of how he was recruited by Chubb Insurance of New York, thanks to the recommendation of Alumni Director Ernie Sheetz and alumnus David King. Green credited his experience at Mount Union with laying the foundation for his successful career at Chubb.

Green then offered words of wisdom to the graduating class. “Although the world that you are about to enter is a lot more complex than it was for me 40 years ago,” he said, “the rules of the game have not changed that much in terms of how to achieve success. Show up on time and come ready to play. Apply the ‘can do attitude’ that drove your successes at Mount Union to your future careers. Don’t leave Mom’s good manners at home.

“There is no job security for anyone,” he continued. “Your safety net is the intellectual capital between your ears. Make reading, research and data mining a priority. Be yourself and never compromise your values. Remember that leadership is an acquired skill that is difficult to define, except when it is absent. When you return home every evening, don’t leave all of your leadership and problem solving capabilities at your work place. Our communities need them.”

In closing, Green said, “And don’t forget Mount Union College. The school continues to make history at a very rapid pace and you do not to want to miss the ride.”

Green was then presented with the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters by Dr. Michael Myler, professor of economics, accounting and business administration and chair of the Department of economics, accounting and business administration.

Elizabeth Macura, the senior class president, spoke on behalf of the class of 2008. The Heaton W. Harris and Corrine Harris Smith Prize was presented to senior Jason S. Prodonovich, a computer science and philosophy major of Industry, PA. The Good Citizenship Award went to senior Mary Ellen Ditchey, a political science and philosophy major of Warren.

The day's activities concluded with a post-commencement reception in Peterson Field House.

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