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BRISTOL, Tenn., April 30, 2016 – The air was filled with the sound of bagpipes on
Saturday, April 30, 2016, as graduates gathered with family and friends as well as
King faculty, staff, alumni, trustees, and students to celebrate King University’s Spring 2016 Commencement exercises on the Student Center lawn on the University’s main campus in Bristol, Tenn.
“Commencement is a special time as the entire campus comes together to celebrate the
accomplishments of our students,” said Matt Roberts, Ph.D., vice president of Academic
Affairs. “We look forward to their continued success in building meaningful lives
of achievement and cultural transformation in Christ in our region and beyond.”
Diplomas were awarded to 517 students who have completed undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies degrees from
the College of Arts and Sciences, School of Applied Science and Technology, School
of Behavioral Health Sciences, School of Communication, Information, and Design, School
of Business and Economics, School of Education, School of Nursing, and the Peeke School
of Christian Mission. Of the 517 graduating, more than 470 walked in Saturday’s ceremony.
Several special recognitions were awarded during the Commencement ceremony, including
the M. Jeffrey Byrd Distinguished Service Award, named in memory of M. Jeffrey Byrd, former chair of King College Board of Trustees
and former president of Bristol Motor Speedway. This award is presented to a King
student who “exceeds expectations” through his or her service to the community and
has modeled leadership in a variety of ways throughout their college career. The award
pays tribute to those who have displayed a heart for service and commitment to the
mission of King, which emphasizes cultural transformation in Christ. The award also
honors academic achievement, servant leadership and dedication to the student body
as well as the local community.
The M. Jeffrey Byrd Distinguished Service Award recipient was awarded this year to Ashleigh Nicole Manke (’16). A native of New Smyrna Beach, Fla., Manke majored in Business Administration and a
was member of the King University Women’s Volleyball Team. This summer she will be
working at Camp Kanakuk. She will then begin her working toward a master’s degree
at Warner University. She will also serve as the Head Women’s Volleyball Coach at
Warner Christian Academy.
The R. T. L. Liston Award for Academic Excellence honors the important contributions of the thirteenth President of King College who
served for 25 years and led the College into a new era of academic excellence. Beginning
in 1986, this award is selected strictly on a quantitative basis without consideration
for a particular degree. The medal was designed by the late Dr. Graham G. Landrum,
King professor emeritus of English. The Latin inscription quotes St. Ambrose - QVIA
TV NON PRO TE SED PRO ME DOLES, which is translated “Because Thou Dost Suffer, Not
For Thyself, But For Me.” This year’s recipient of the R. T. L. Liston Award for Academic Excellence was Caleb Greene. Green, a native of Blountville, Tenn., double-majored in Cell and Molecular Biology
and Chemistry while at King.
This year’s Commencement speaker was Professor Jonathan L. Walton, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University and Pusey Minister in
Harvard’s Memorial Church. He is also a professor of Religion and Society on the faculty
Professor Walton’s research addresses the intersections of religion, politics, and
media culture. He has published widely in scholarly journals such as Religion and
American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation and Pneuma: The Journal of the Society
for Pentecostal Studies. His book “Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black
Televangelism” (NYU Press, 2009) disrupts commonly held assumptions that associate
evangelical broadcasting with white, conservative evangelical communities, while illumining
the ways televangelists’ professed aims are frustrated by their hyper-mediated methods.
Professor Walton’s work and insights have been featured in several national and international
news outlets including the New York Times, CNN and the BBC.
Walton earned his Ph.D. and Master of Divinity degrees from Princeton Theological
Seminary. The Atlanta native graduated from Morehouse College with a B.A. in Political
Science. Walton was an assistant professor of Religious Studies at the University
of California, Riverside prior to joining the faculty of Harvard Divinity School.
On Friday, April 29, graduates joined together in worship during King’s annual Baccalaureate Ceremony at First Presbyterian Church. Professor Jonathan L. Walton served as the speaker for the service.
King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in
1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional
degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health
sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business
administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning
opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA
Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information
about King University, visit www.king.edu. King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of
any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University
is certified by SCHEV to operate locations in Virginia. For more information on SCHEV
certification, contact the King University office at Southwest Virginia Community
College, 309 College Road, Richlands, VA 24641.