School of Undergraduate Studies' Commissioning Service
May 18, 2009
In front of an audience of 300 family and friends, 72 of the 190 graduating undergraduate students participated in the Commissioning Service, the spiritual culminating experience through the School of Undergraduate Studies. The event was streamed live and archived for the candidates and for family and friends who were unable to attend. (Click here to watch the archive.)
Commissioning is a sacred service dedicated to worship, prayer, and anointing. Commissioning means to "grant authority," "entrust," or to "appoint or assign a task or function." This special ceremony commissions our graduates to take their training into the world and make a difference for Christ.
At the 2007 Commissioning Service, Dr. Robert Schihl, the former Dean of the School of Communication and the Arts, reflected on the origin of the commissioning service. In speaking with the founding faculty of the school about its first graduating class in 1980, he said, "It was unanimous that we would have a ceremony called commissioning, for sending our graduates off together and to anoint them as they leave."
At this year's service, keynote speaker Dr. Carlos Campo, the Vice President for Academic Affairs, charged the audience to "tell your story" or "dígales su historia" as advocated by his 87-year-old Cuban father. Dr. Campo described the irony in his life story, which included having roots planted by a father who did not choose education and can scarcely speak the English language. Yet, Dr. Campo has earned a Ph.D. in English and serves as Vice President for Academics. The thrust of his story was that regardless of how a person's story begins, God graciously writes new chapters in which he or she serves Him. "Tell your story," Campo repeated, to "dispel the myths or stereotypes about Christian young people... that they are close-minded, narrow-minded absolutists. You'll dispel myths that there is some sort of oxymoron about the phrase, 'Christian scholar.'" He continued, "Your story will join a vast narrative of believers" since God wrote the first story of Adam and Eve.
Dr. M.G. "Pat" Robertson spoke briefly to the graduates as well. Reflecting on his life, Dr. Robertson urged students to "Dream big. With God, all things are possible." Dr. Robertson then proceeded to pray for the candidates corporately, "...that you would lead them, guide them, protect them, and give them the anointing of the Holy Spirit... lead them every step of the way, and may your blessing rest upon them. We ask it in Jesus' name, Amen."
Following Dr. Robertson's prayer, each graduating student received individual prayer and anointing by faculty. One by one, students joined the intimacy of small groups of faculty on stage, and received special words of prayer, and, in some cases, prophecy. Students consider this time of individual prayer one of the most intimate, special events of their experience at Regent—to receive a personalized anointing and commissioning to leave the University to change the world for Christ.
The Commissioning Service is also a time to recognize excellence in scholarship. The School of Undergraduate Studies began assigning Latin honors to graduates last year. Latin honor are assigned to undergraduate graduates who have completed at least 50 percent of their coursework at Regent, and have earned a certain cumulative GPA for each designation as follows: cum laude, 3.85 – 3.94 GPA; magna cum laude, 3.95 – 3.99 GPA; and summa cum laude, 4.0 GPA. Though unofficial until the registrar confers the degrees, 11 students will graduate cum laude and nine students will graduate magna cum laude. Only four students will graduate summa cum laude: Wesley Atwood, Ariella Beard, James Hathaway, and Regina Shaw.
Each year, one student is chosen to give a charge to graduating undergraduate class. The honor this year went to Wesley Atwood, an Organizational Leadership and Management major, and a full-time project manager for Architectural Graphics in Virginia Beach. Mr. Atwood began by thanking the Lord for His saving grace, as well as his wife, mother and father for their support.
Mr. Atwood challenged the class to live a life of continuous inquiry. Atwood stated, "We have discovered that to ask good questions, we must challenge our own assumptions. We must dig deep." In contrast to the ever-challenging environment of academia, Wesley also warned the class of the temptations that await graduates as they leave—the temptation to abandon the active pursuit of knowledge. Fittingly, the keynote speaker at Regent's Commencement Ceremony the next day, senior vice president of the NBA's Orlando Magic, Pat Williams, urged graduates to pursue knowledge by continuing to read after they graduate, even just a half-hour each day, which could amount to several dozen books in a year. The pursuit of knowledge is what formal education is about, but using that knowledge to change the world for Christ is why Regent University exists.
The School of Undergraduate Studies' mission is to provide Christ-centered and relevant baccalaureate education that is both rigorous and accessible with the goal of preparing spiritually alive graduates who emerge as leaders in their communities and professions.