At Regent University’s 38th annual commencement on May 12, the most graduates in the school’s history (1,976) earned associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees as members of the Class of 2018. The ceremony drew thousands of new alumni, family members, friends and distinguished guests to the Library Plaza. Beautiful spring weather served as a perfect backdrop for the 1,070 men and women who were on campus to receive their diplomas.
The university’s founder, chancellor and CEO, Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson, welcomed those in attendance to the biggest graduation ceremony in the university’s history by sharing an impressive list of recent Regent accomplishments. “In the past few years, we’ve doubled our enrollment,” he stated. “We have more than 10,000 students representing 50 states, and 89 different countries. … With this year’s graduates, we will soon surpass 25,000 alumni who are making an impact for the kingdom of God.”
After officially opening commencement in prayer, Robertson introduced Phillip Walker, chairman of Regent’s board of trustees. Walker challenged the Class of 2018 to be leaders in their communities, their states and our nation:
“You are about to join many Regent alums who are already having a major impact in the areas of education, nursing, communication, law, government, counseling, ministry and business.” He continued, “I expect many of you will become the leading executives, educators, or even public servants improving the lives of our citizens, having the opportunity to take the gospel to the marketplace.”
Walker closed his congratulatory remarks by encouraging graduates to hold the words of Philippians 1:6 close to their hearts: “Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of
Robertson then introduced commencement speaker, Dr. John C.W. “Chauncey” Crandall IV. A world-renowned cardiologist, author and speaker, Crandall currently practices interventional vascular and transplant cardiology at Mount Sinai Heart Hospital in New York, where he’s an assistant professor of medicine. He also serves as director of preventive medicine and complex cardiology at Mount Sinai Heart Hospital in Palm Beach, Florida.
In addition to these professional accomplishments, Crandall is vice-chairman of Regent University’s board of trustees and champions the university’s mission to equip Christian leaders to change the world. When asked by Impact what it was like to deliver the commencement address at a school he’s been associated with since its early years, Crandall replied, “Wherever I can go to proclaim Christ, I go. It’s a great honor.”
Crandall first became involved with Regent many years ago, because he had a desire to interact with other like-minded professionals — lawyers, doctors, business people, etc. — who believed in the power of the Holy Spirit. “When I came to the university for the first time,” he recalled. “I felt the presence of God.”
Regarding what he hoped graduates would remember from his commencement speech, Crandall told Impact, “What I want them to take away is the sense of the power of the Holy Spirit in their life, that the Holy Spirit will never leave them … and they can go forward with great boldness and authority and still proclaim Christ in the workplace.”
In his commencement address, Crandall challenged the graduates to always pursue excellence. “As you are recognized for your good works and performance, you are constantly building and setting up a professional work platform of credibility for Christ.” He added, “Everyone will be watching you. If you are achieving excellence, all those around you will see that you are different, that you’re special — set apart from the world and different from what the world can offer.”
Crandall also assured graduates that the biblical principle of sowing and reaping works in life and in the workplace. “If you sow excellence, you will reap excellence. If you sow respect, you will receive respect. And if you sow Christ’s love and kindness, you will reap a harvest of souls,” he said. “‘Never give up, and never give up on God’ should be your battle cry.”
In closing, Crandall urged the class to follow the will of God for every decision and every step they take in life: “Seek Him. Pursue Him. Go into the world proclaiming His name. … This world is just too dark, too difficult, to navigate through without Christ and His direction.”
When Robertson returned to the lectern to deliver his charge to the graduates, he urged them not to fear the future. “God says, ‘I have a plan for you to prosper you and do you good’ (Jeremiah 29:11). But as we step out into the future, He is the future, and we walk out into the One who loves us. … God Almighty is on your side. He is not against you. He is a Father who loves you.”
He continued his charge, saying: “Don’t fear the future. Be bold. Step up boldly into the future, because you are in the hands of an almighty and loving God. You don’t have to be afraid.” In closing, he stated, “There’s opportunity in today’s world like you would not believe. So, don’t fear when you graduate from this place. I want you to know that, when you leave here, you step out into God. ‘I not only hold the future,’ He says, ‘I am the future.’”
In response to that charge, Terry Smith, who received her Ph.D. from the School of Education, spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates. “Every one of us has a unique story,” she said. “While we will undoubtedly reflect on our past to help us determine what we seek for our future, it will not be our past that defines us. It will be the choices we make in the coming days, from the gifts we received today, that make the world a better place.”
She encouraged her class to promote excellence, innovation and integrity in all they do: “Excellence, not apathy, is the goal of all those that cherish a prosperous direction. Too often people lean toward mediocrity to avoid standing out in the crowd. Be bold and proud of the skills you’ve attained, and encourage others to strive for their best.”
The graduates also heard from the 2018 Alumnus of the Year, the Rev. Dr. Colleen Derr, president of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. She urged her new fellow alumni to recognize how the Holy Spirit used the university to change their lives. (See page five for a full article about Regent’s 2018 Alumnus of the Year.)
“Through Regent, the Holy Spirit has pushed you, has He not?” she asked. “He has pushed you, and you have learned how to think deeper, to dig down deep into knowledge, and it has become wisdom — wisdom that He wants you to use to change this world for Jesus Christ.”
After the presentation of the graduates and the conferring of degrees upon the members of the Class of 2018, Robertson proclaimed, “Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve been waiting for. You can now flip your tassels!” Immediately, the crowd was showered with 70 pounds of green, blue and silver confetti, signaling the end of commencement.
For the benediction, Regent’s patriarch prayed the Aaronic Blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 over the graduates, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord cause His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you His peace. In Jesus’ name, amen and amen!”
For more information about enrolling in a Regent degree program at one of the university’s schools of study, call 800.373.5504 or visit regent.edu/apply.