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September 2020



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Seniors celebrated on MVNU’s original commencement date

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio — Mount Vernon Nazarene University seniors were lauded with a special live event on Saturday, May 2, the date they expected to walk the stage and receive their diploma from President Dr. Henry W. Spaulding.

The live event featured an opening with Spaulding and Senior Class President Nathan “NayNay” Parker arriving at the Eternal Flame to mark the location where graduates stood together for the Ribbon Cutting ceremony in 2016 and where they are currently honored with the 2020 ribbon. There Spaulding addressed the Class of 2020.

“Well the first thing I want to say to the Class of 2020 is congratulations,” said Spaulding. “You’ve done a good job, you’ve worked hard, you’ve studied, you’ve walked these sidewalks and these buildings, you’ve sat in classrooms, you’ve made friends that will last you for a lifetime, and you will get a degree. I hope that that degree will open the door for you to have a bright future.”

Service Above Self awards, presented by Campus Pastor Stephanie Lobdell, recognized students who have distinguished themselves in their college career through service to others. These individuals represent the highest ideal of MVNU’s motto: “To Seek To Learn Is To Seek To Serve.” The students were nominated by their individual schools, as well as Student Life, Campus Ministries, and the senior class. The following are the top candidates for each school:

The School of Social and Natural Sciences — Michael Mohnasky and Hannah Falkenberg;

The School of Nursing and Health Sciences — Sarah Laird;

The School of Christian Ministry — Ellen Baker and JJ Allison;

Jetter School of Professional Studies — Abigail Slingerland; and

The School of Arts and Humanities — Hannah Radke & Drew Wymer.

The top two winners will be announced during Commencement on Aug. 15.

A special gift to the graduates was presented in a video performance of “The Lord Bless and Keep You,’ by Peter Lutkin. Current and former Collegians Chorale (previously Singing Collegians) submitted 163 performance recordings and they were masterfully combined into one video which debuted during Senior Celebration.

“This choral blessing has been sung by the choir since the establishment of the university in 1968,” said Dr. Bob Tocheff, professor of music. “Because of its familiarity to alumni over the years, it was natural to invite them to participate in this virtual project, with 2005 alumnus Aaron VanValkenburg producing the audio and the video.”

Vice President for Student Life Tracy Waal wanted to mark the day in a special way knowing graduates will receive their degrees on Aug. 15.

“We decided the best way to use May 2 was to honor and celebrate our graduate in a different way,” Waal said. “Pieces and parts began coming together from all corners of campus. It was just a matter of coordinating all of these efforts into one big meaningful event.”

Senior Celebration was the apex of the week where class memories, congratulations and well wishes were shared on MVNU’s social media platforms from fellow students, faculty, administration and alumni.

While graduates were scattered throughout the state and country, immediate feedback from faculty, parents, alumni, and students was uplifting and powerful, bridging the distance between home and campus.

“This was a hard time for all of us, especially the seniors,” said Parker. “I was worried that the rest of our seniors would be sad and disappointed about not getting to graduate on May 2, but we all came together through social media posts to show that we are all still in this as a team.”

“I really appreciated the Senior Celebration on Saturday,” said graduate Rachel Rinehart. “While we were not able to gather for the graduation we expected, it was so nice that our MVNU administration still wanted to make us feel loved while being far apart. It reminded me why I chose to come to MVNU in the first place.”

To view the Senior Celebration, click here.

The University has rescheduled Commencement for Aug. 15, in the R.R. Hodges Chapel/Auditorium. For more information, visit

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education both in-seat and online to more than 2,200 students from 34 states and 14 foreign countries.