CIU Celebrates the Class of 2017

May 02, 2017

By Janai Tedder

CIU Student Writer

Columbia International University sent off the 207 members of the Class of 2017 during two April 29 commencement ceremonies in Shortess Chapel. The graduates were awarded diplomas ranging from certificates to doctoral degrees as faculty and families celebrated with shouts of encouragement and applause.    

“Today is a celebration of what God has been doing in and through you,” Provost Dr. James Lanpher said in his welcoming speech. “Maybe you thought this day would never come but now that it’s here, maybe you can’t believe it’s already over.”

Outgoing President Dr. Bill Jones delivered the commencement address in his final commencement as president. He will become CIU chancellor in July when Dr. Mark Smith becomes president.  

“In a sense,” Lanpher added, “President Jones is graduating along with you.”

Jones spoke on 2 Timothy 4:5, a passage he felt graduates could relate to and is the passion of his heart.

“My last charge to you on the day of your last Chapel is to ‘do the work of an evangelist and fulfill your ministry,’” Jones said. He then added, “And I sure do love you guys.”

Jones shared stories of his experience with evangelism including an email he recently received from a man who, as a teen, heard Jones present the gospel at a church camp 30 years ago. The man thanked him for the impact he had on his decision to follow Christ.

After receiving their diplomas, each graduate was given a bag of seed to symbolize and remind them to spread the Word of God wherever He plants them.

Graduate Betsy Rea is thankful to be done with school, but sad to be leaving CIU.

“I appreciated what President Jones said about fulfilling our ministry,” Rea said. “I’m excited to see where God leads me and how he enables me to fulfill that ministry and calling.”

Bryan Frierson called graduation exciting and is looking forward to his marketing job with the Columbia (South Carolina) Fireflies minor league baseball team.

“Graduating feels bittersweet,” Frierson said. “College was a time I built some lifelong friendships and have an overall great experience, but I’m excited to see where my CIU education takes me in fulfilling my calling.”

See photos from the CIU seminary/graduate commencement here, and the undergraduate commencement here

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