Hanover College academic seal

A historic day on the Hanover College campus featured the conferral of degrees to members of the classes of 2020 and 2021. Driven by the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic - and the emergence of the 17-year cicadas - separate ceremonies were held for each graduating class Saturday, May 29, at Alumni Stadium.

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Highlight videos: Class of 2020 / Class of 2021

Full ceremony replays: Class of 2020 / Class of 2021

The academic achievements of the Class of 2021 were celebrated during Hanover’s 188th Commencement, held at 10 a.m. This year’s senior class included 233 students, highlighted by 90 scholars who earned their degrees with honors. Twenty graduates achieved high honors (magna cum laude) and 15 students completed their degrees with highest honors (summa cum laude).

Grace Elizabeth Phillips '21, an English and communication major from Danville, Ind., served as the class speaker. Throughout her comments, Phillips spoke of recent global health, social, political and environmental issues and the admirable response of her classmates.

Read Phillips' speech, "The Element of Surprise"

Gracie Phillips

“This was not an easy year, nor was our time at Hanover as a whole a walk in the park,” Phillips stated. “We come to college with certain expectations. We don’t expect to be surprised - or perhaps a more accurate term is completely blindsided by these moments – [during our Hanover career] that turned everything we knew, everything that was familiar to us, on its head.”

While the recent past has taken a toll, Phillips offered that the challenges have unveiled the potential of her generation. She stated, “We’re tired, Class of 2021. I know we are. In a lot of ways, we are still young, far too young, to be facing the storms we face, but young enough to want better for ourselves and for the world. We continue to surprise those who have come before us with our resilience, with our desire to change the status quo and with our spirit. Our generation has faced incredible storms, storms that herald change and conflict, but also bring growth in the aftermath.”

In closing, Phillips reminded her classmates that these difficult challenges are only the beginning and their generation must lead the way for continued progress. She urged, “Keep surprising people. Keep pressing on. Keep enduring. Keep looking into the eyes of your great expectations and instead, forge your own path. We have weathered every storm that was supposed to take us out. Every challenge, every expectation, every battle we have had to face, we emerge [on] the other side stronger than ever before.”

Hanover’s historic afternoon ceremony was devoted to the Class of 2020. The class, totaling 241 students, was originally scheduled to graduate May 30, 2020. A second commencement, scheduled for August 15, 2020, was also cancelled by the pandemic.

More than 60 classmates, joined by family and friends, returned to campus for a COVID-delayed opportunity to experience their formal graduation. The ceremony, officially the College’s 187th Commencement, began at 2 p.m.

Cambria Jones '20, recipient of the 2020 Henry C. Long Citation for Scholarship and General Excellence, returned to campus to deliver the class address.

Cambria Jones

In her opening, Jones expressed appreciation for the long-awaited graduation ceremony, stating “Everyone who is celebrating with us is a testament to the strength of our Hanover community. Thank you for your continual support of the Class of 2020 throughout our four years at Hanover and during the unprecedented turmoil we navigated at the end of our senior year.”

During her remarks, Jones offered a glimpse into the vast array of life journeys started by classmates in the past year, including new careers, new schools, new hobbies and even new spouses. She joked, “It was fun to tell my seventh graders yesterday on the last day of school that their teacher was going to graduate from college tomorrow.”

Jones also reminisced about achievements, campus events and other shared experiences during the Class of 2020’s time on campus. Her year-by-year reflection of the highlights, trials and cumulative joys of life as Hanover students set the stage for the powerful emotions surrounding the abrupt end to their final year, two months ahead of schedule. She declared, “We packed up and moved out early. And it hurt. It really hurt that we lost the last months of the best year. But the fact that it hurt so much is a testament to what an amazing time we all had here.”

Normally held at the Point or Collier Arena, Hanover’s graduation ceremonies were held at the College’s outdoor athletic facility for the first time since 1987. This year’s shift of commencement activities to Alumni Stadium provided distance from the droning sounds of the cicadas in the heavily wooded areas of campus. The 1987 ceremony - the final commencement for then-President John Horner - was also moved to the football stadium due to excessive noise from the cicadas.

During each of today's ceremonies, President Lake Lambert welcomed graduates, families and friends (both in-person and online), recognized top student award recipients from each class and conferred degrees to each student. Carey Adams, provost and vice president for academic affairs, presented each candidate during the conferral of degrees and recognized retiring faculty members.

Craig Philipp, professor of chemistry, and Nancy Rodgers, professor of mathematics, were recognized during the Class of 2021’s ceremony. Their retirement at the close of this academic year caps 45 years of combined service to the College.

Three professors who retired following the 2019-20 academic year were honored during the Class of 2020’s graduation. Stephen Steiner, professor of chemistry, Larry Thornton, professor of history, and Ruth Turner '73, professor of political science, collectively served Hanover’s students for more than 85 years.

The Rev. Catherine Y.E. Knott, Ball Family Chaplain, performed the invocation and benediction. She also delivered the sermon at the traditional pre-graduation baccalaureate service, held May 28.

Both commencement ceremonies also featured previously recorded selections by the Hanover College Instrumental Ensemble, directed by David Mruzek, professor of music.

The selections included Johannes Brahms’ “Brahms for Brass,” Jean-Joseph Mouret’s “Rondeau,” Brahms’ “Theme from First Symphony,” Michael Praetorius’ “La Bouree from Terpischore,” Jeremiah Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary,” Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and Samuel Wards’ “America, the Beautiful.”

After the conferral of degrees at each ceremony, Ty Chainarong Allen '21 sang Meredith Willson’s “The Alma Mater.” Allen, a member of Hanover’s choir, is an engineering major from Zionsville, Ind.

Marshals for commencement activities included faculty members Ann Kirkland, professor of French, Dan Murphy '81, professor of history, and Bill Tereshko, professor of kinesiology and integrated physiology.