North Central College celebrated Commencement with record number of graduates

Jun 18, 2015

North Central College’s 150th Commencement celebration on June 13 featured many highlights. Among them were 836 students who received degrees, with 100 earning master’s degrees and a record 736 receiving bachelor’s degrees, including a record 41 who completed the College Scholars Honors Program.  

Other highlights included an address by President Emeritus Harold R. Wilde, the College’s ninth president, and the presentation of three special awards by President Troy D. Hammond. Graduating senior Allie Youngren received the Mark A. Reid Leadership Award, Trustee Ray Kinney was recognized with the Gael D. Swing Award for Meritorious Service, and Professor of Mathematics Richard Wilders received the Harold and Eva White First Citizen of the College Award.    

The Mark A. Reid Leadership Award is named for Mark Reid, who was a campus leader and president of the Student Governing Association (SGA) when he was killed in an auto accident in 1984. Youngren received the award by vote of the senior class for her leadership and organization skills and mentoring. A psychology major, she helped organize the inaugural TEDxNorthCentralCollege event and was an Academic All-CCIW on the women’s volleyball team.  

The Gael D. Swing Award, named for North Central’s eighth president, recognizes extraordinary contributions to the life of the College. Kinney (right), principal at Minuteman Press in Naperville, has been on North Central’s Board of Trustees since 2001. Hammond said, “He always has the best interests of North Central at heart, and as a terrific businessman he always makes the College his business … standing tall among the men and women who have ultimate responsibility for the College’s success.”

The Harold and Eva White First Citizen of the College Award honors a North Central faculty, staff or student who exemplifies the best of North Central College. A member of the faculty for 40 years, Wilders is the Marie and Bernice Gantzert Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, chair of the Division of Science and director of the Lederman Scholars and Community Scholars programs. Hammond said, “A great teacher, leader, mentor, researcher … he does not seek recognition or praise, but gives of himself simply because of his passion for this institution and the students it serves.”

Three retiring faculty were honored and received emeritus status: Thomas Sawyer, professor of psychology emeritus; Judy Walters, associate professor of computer science emerita; and R. Devadoss Pandian, professor of mathematics and dean of faculty emeritus, who has been the College’s vice president for academic affairs since 1995.   

Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degrees were awarded to Pandian and Wilde. Pandian (left) has served North Central College for 30 years as a mathematician, professor, scholar, dean of faculty, cabinet member and “tireless advocate for the faculty … and for the academic success of every student in every classroom,” said Hammond. “He exemplified the vision that our highest ideals in academia can be achieved through thoughtful and inclusive discourse, followed by decisive action—truly the definition of a great leader.”

About Wilde, Hammond said, “His vision was to make North Central College one of the finest comprehensive liberal arts institutions in the United States. [His] leadership transformed North Central into the distinctive liberal arts college it is today, renowned for excellence and achievement in academics, athletics, fine arts and residence life.”      

Click here to view Wilde’s Commencement address. In addition to sharing several pieces of advice with the graduates, he exhorted them to remember: true intelligence is always modest, civility costs nothing and kind words cost nothing.

To view video segments of the Commencement ceremony, visit