BOLIVAR – The Southwest Baptist University (SBU) spring commencement took place May 22 at the Merrill Burnidge Memorial Forum on the main campus in Bolivar. More than 400 undergraduate and graduate students crossed the stage and received their diplomas.
Missouri Congressman Roy Blunt, a former SBU president, gave the commencement address. He came to the United States House of Representatives in 1997 with a background as a public servant and administrator. He became the Majority Whip earlier in his career than any member of Congress in the last eight decades and also served as Majority Leader. Blunt is now the second-highest Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is also a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The people of Southwest Missouri have overwhelmingly sent Blunt to Washington to represent them seven times, most recently reelecting him with 68 percent of the vote.
Before coming to Congress, Blunt was elected in 1984 as Missouri’s first Republican Secretary of State in more than 50 years, a position he held for two terms, and served four years as the president of SBU.
Blunt was named Missouri’s Republican of the Year in 2001. As Whip, the second highest Republican in the House, he led a team of deputies and assistants that columnist Robert Novak described as “the most efficient party whip operation in congressional history.” In one of Novak’s last regular columns with The Washington Post he wrote about Blunt’s efforts to ensure that the votes of our military men and women serving overseas are counted.
His address touched on the need for Congress to renew the Hyde amendment, which keeps federal Medicaid funds from paying for elective abortions. He also talked about the current threats to religious liberty in America.
He is married to Abigail Blunt and has four children: Matt Blunt, Missouri’s 54th Governor; Amy Blunt, an attorney in Kansas City; Andy Blunt, an attorney in Jefferson City; and Charlie (age 5). Blunt has six grandchildren: Davis Mosby, Ben Blunt, Branch Blunt, Eva Mosby, Allyson Blunt, and Brooks Blunt.
Besides recognizing the graduates, Julie Bryant, assistant professor of education, won the Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher Award. The award is chosen by the current and three previous graduating classes and is presented annually to a faculty member for “outstanding teaching ability and personal guidance.”
Rosalee Mills Appleby, a career missionary to Brazil, established the Life Beautiful Award in 1937. This award is given annually to an outstanding man and woman in the Southwest Baptist University spring graduating class. These individuals have demonstrated, by their scholarship and character, that they are living a “life beautiful.” The faculty selects the recipients whose identities remain confidential until the announcement at spring commencement.
Marita McCampbell of Marshall, a summa cum laude graduate in physical education, won the female Life Beautiful Award. Micah Titterington of Tonganoxie, Kan., a Biblical studies and communication graduate with a 4.0 grade-point average, won the male Life Beautiful Award.