West Liberty University graduates are on a mission to ponder, “What would Leonardo da Vinci do?” | News, Sports, Jobs


Photo Provided – Jim Denova, left, accepts an award from West Liberty University President W. Franklin Evans for serving as WLU’s 2022 Spring Start Lecturer.

WEST LIBERTY — West Liberty University graduates enjoyed a brilliant celebration as they gathered in person for commencement ceremonies on Saturday. Three hundred and ninety-three students are included in the class of 2022.

President W. Franklin Evans presided over the ceremony which was held at the Academic, Athletic and Recreational Complex and mentioned that it was the first ceremony in several years to be free of all restrictions related to the pandemic.

Senior Katelynn Blair of Tarantum, Pennsylvania earned the student lecturer honor based on her GPA. Blair is an Elbin Scholar and a summa cum laude graduate of the Gary E. West College of Business. Double majoring in accounting and finance, Blair will attend law school next fall at the University of Akron.

Blair began by thanking the parents, teachers, classmates and all the other teachers and staff who have helped and pushed her over the past four years.

“There is, however, one professor who has really impacted my life during my time here, Dr Turrentine. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me,” she said, adding that “you are the reason I am where I am now and I can fulfill my dreams of going to law school. .

She also drew attention to the quality of education at WLU, saying, “I didn’t know what college I wanted to go to, so I took a gamble with West Liberty. I can say with confidence that it was the best bet I have ever taken. When you come to West Liberty, you not only receive a high quality education, but you also gain another family.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Jim Denova, former vice president of the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation of Pittsburgh.

He began by sharing a personal connection he had with West Liberty in 1976, when he married at WLU Interfaith Chapel.

“I get a little sentimental remembering that time. It was the year of the Bicentenary, there were world upheavals and political turbulence. My wife (Becky) ran the foreign student office here at West Liberty.

He explained that his wife was involved in recruiting students from many international countries going through upheaval, such as Iran, Nigeria and Saigon.

Denova went on to explain his additional connection to WLU during his years at the Benedum Foundation. He went on to complement WLU on resistance to the creation of specific learning silos, calling it the fragmentation of education. It has embraced learning that blends the various liberal arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) disciplines.

Denova illustrated this point by referring to the Italian Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci.

“Da Vinci is an icon for me because he incorporated writing, painting, inventing things, making things. He saw no distinction between designing and making a thing and being a philosopher and being a painter” , Denova said.

He reminded graduates that the jobs and careers of the future may not be defined by the chosen field, saying innovation is needed.

He mentioned the WLU Center for Arts and Education and its director Lou Karas, calling it a unique center and focal point for STEM and liberal arts and a place for teacher training to share the learning across states and disciplines.

In closing, he said that “from my marriage to my retirement, West Liberty has provided me with fond memories and professional accomplishments.”

He left the graduates with a suggestion.

“You are moving towards your future. It will be a winding road of experiences and settings. When you get to the fork in the road, ask yourself, ‘What would Da Vinci do?'”

At the ceremony, graduating students with the highest GPA in each respective college were also honored and given the honor of carrying the college banner. These include:

· College of Science, Callie White, Buckhannon, W.Va. and Abigail Wollschlager, Fredericksburg, Va.

West College of Business, Katherine Loader, Cambridge, Ohio, Baylee Snyder, Belmont, Ohio and Jared Ullom, Wheeling.

· College of Education and Human Performance, Brooke Provenzano, New Cumberland, W.Va. and Aubree Williams, Benwood, W.Va.

· College of Liberal and Creative Arts, Paul Denard, Wheeling, W.Va. and Raeann Keefe, Hedgesville, W.Va.

Graduate Studies, McCall Brummage, Fairview, W.Va.

President Evans concluded the ceremonies with brief remarks.

“Be proud of your upbringing and your Alma Mater,” he began. “It is our desire to always be better, to be stronger and to be recognized for the excellence that is found here.”



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