HLG confers degrees on 206 grads
By Brandy Campbell
HLG Public Relations
May 17, 2005
Hannibal – Graduation programs converted to fans at Hannibal-LaGrange College’s (HLG) 147th Commencement ceremony, May 7. But nobody complained, least of all the record-breaking 206 graduates who received their diplomas. Flushed faces held ear-to-ear grins, and not even the stifling robes could quell their spirits.
“This is the day we’ve all been waiting for,” said HLG President Woodrow Burt. “For these graduates this day marks the achievement of goals set long ago and met through diligent study and personal sacrifice. William Jennings Bryan once wrote ‘Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for. It is a thing to be achieved.’ You sit here today because years ago you made a significant choice and in turn you have achieved an important goal of your life. On behalf of the entire HLG family, we commend and congratulate you.”
The speaker for this year’s commencement was Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Duane Benton. The Eighth Circuit hears appeals from the federal courts in seven Midwestern states, and is subject to review only by the U. S. Supreme Court. Benton is the first and only U. S. circuit judge who is a certified public accountant. Previously, Benton served on the Missouri Supreme Court from 1991 until 2004.
Born in Springfield, Benton grew up in Mountain View, Willow Springs, and Cape Girardeau. He is a 1972 graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. Benton received a law degree from Yale Law School in 1975, distinguishing himself as editor and managing editor of the Yale Law Journal. Selected as a Danforth Fellow, he completed the Senior Executives Program at Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Benton is also an adjunct professor at both Westminster College and the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. A deacon and trustee of the First Baptist Church in Jefferson City, he is former counsel to the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) and presently serves on the MBC’s Committee on Continuing Review. Benton and his wife, Sandra, a registered nurse, are the parents of two children – daughter, Megan, and son, Grant.
“I always remembered the sense of accomplishment, freedom, relief, and gain about this time,” said Benton to the graduates. “And I thought about what Paul wrote to the Galatians. Paul wrote ‘You have been called to liberty.’ Graduates, you rightly sense the liberty you’re experiencing. You deserve it; you’ve earned it. But Paul continues in that verse, and Paul says… ‘don’t use your freedom to sin.’”
Benton went on to warn graduates to take seriously the issue of sin, while not pointing at other’s sins and not falling into the trap of perfection.
“Now don’t fall for perfection,” said Benton “Be yourself. Accept yourself, but then develop yourself to the limit of your God-given potential.”
Benton continued with Galatians 5:13, and advised students to “use your liberty by love to serve one another.”
“What you’ve learned here at Hannibal-LaGrange is to serve,” said Benton. “Your nation needs a vision. Your world is full of hungry people. Your world needs you.”
In addition to the conferring of degrees, and the commencement address, several honors were announced. Valedictorian of the associate’s class was Katherine Minx of Sunrise Beach and the salutatorian was Nancy Manford of Jefferson City. In the bachelor’s class, Robert Birks of Saverton was valedictorian and Nicole Phillips of Luray was salutatorian.
Also at commencement, the Parkway Distinguished Scholar award was presented to Barry Morgan. The $1,000 award is given by Parkway Baptist Church in St. Louis. Selection for the award is based on professional and personal outstanding contributions to Christian education.
Morgan joined the Hannibal-LaGrange College faculty in 1984 as a professor in Christian studies. He holds the bachelor of science and masters of science degree in aerospace engineering from the Texas A&M University, a masters of divinity and doctorate of philosophy from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Morgan served as associate academic dean from 1991-94. Currently, his committee work includes Campus Computerization, Honors, and Strategic Planning Team. He has been elected twice by the faculty to represent them on the Administrative Council. Morgan is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, and the Evangelical Theological Society.
Morgan is a renown seminar speaker/presenter. His publications include Haggai/Malachi, Shepherd’s Notes, 1999; Holman Bible Dictionary, “Alms”; “Lamb of God”, 1991; “Repentance, Redemption, and Forgiveness.”
Morgan and his wife, Darnelle, have two sons and four grandchildren. The Morgans are active members at Fifth Street Baptist Church in Hannibal.