Lipscomb recognized its graduates and commemorated its 125th anniversary at the 2016 December graduation on Saturday afternoon in Allen Arena.
In addition to the typical parts of graduation such as the awarding of diplomas, the singing of the alma mater and the Tolling of the Bell, a special guest speaker — David Lipscomb himself — showed up to help observe the monumental anniversary.
“This is a very special graduation, as we’re recognizing a special year in our history at Lipscomb,” Provost Craig Bledsoe noted before university president Randy Lowry introduced David Lipscomb to the crowd.
“A number of months ago, we had Founders Day on our campus, and one of the amazing things that happened is David Lipscomb reappeared,” Lowry said. “Now this doesn’t always happen after 125 years, but we are so appreciative that it has happened again today. We have a moment as we celebrate this milestone in the university’s history to hear from our founder.”
Those present at the ceremony then took a few steps back in time to 1891 — the year David Lipscomb and James A. Harding founded the university. David Lipscomb, portrayed by Henry “Chip” Arnold, was welcomed to the stage to share some of his wisdom with the graduates.
“We started in downtown Nashville in a small building with a faculty of four and a handful of students — around 12,” Lipscomb said.
It reminds me of the parable of the mustard seed. We started out with humble beginnings in 1891 . . . and as that mustard seed grew, it became a great tree in the garden, and it attracted all kinds of people. And those are the two things I think of that have not changed in 125 years — the vision of a coming in and a coming out. The students come here and learn to be prepared in their scholastic professions, but also learn to be prepared to serve their communities wherever they are.
After the awarding of diplomas and hooding to over 400 graduates, President Lowry gave his concluding remarks, noting some of Lipsomb’s special accomplishments in the past 125 years, such as recently moving from a regional university to being ranked as a national university, in the top three percent of all universities in the country.
Lowry then recognized several special students and their accomplishments, including Paul Allen Shrum. Shrum started his collegiate baseball career as a Lipscomb bison in 1996 before he decided to put his education goals on hold in 1998 to play professional baseball. Shrum played for the Minnesota Twins and then the San Francisco Giants as a catcher until 2004. He returned in the spring of 2016 to receive his Bachelor of Professional Studies in Organizational Leadership.
Sarah Wood, graduate and member of student band The Arcadian Wild led the attendees in the alma mater. To conclude the ceremony, there was the traditional Tolling of the Bell, with each toll representing a decade of Lipscomb’s history.
Graduate Patrick Carpenter was one of many students who participated in the commencement ceremony. Carpenter transferred to Lipscomb, and, as he reflected on his time at the university, noted that he was very thankful to all the school has given him, wishing he had spent all four years at Lipscomb.
“It’s crazy that it’s over,” Carpenter said. “It feels like yesterday when I first walked on campus in 2014. I’ve had an absolute blast. I’ve grown as a person. I’ve changed. And it’s all been for the better. I’m so thankful for this university and can’t wait to see where it leads me in the spring.”