FULTON, Mo. — Westminster College announced two local students were among 140 seniors who officially received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the institution on May 8.

Local students who received degrees were: Paige Bishop, of Hannibal — Middle School Education Major; and Howard Barnes, of New London, Mo. — Exercise Science Major.

The socially-distanced Commencement 2021 ceremonies took place at 11 a.m. in Champ Auditorium after threatening storms forced college officials to move the event indoors. Families watched via livestream in Historic Gymnasium and Coulter Science Center.

As the day progressed, the weather cleared, and graduates were able to participate in the College’s time-honored Columns Ceremony on the Hill.

Just as Westminster students pass through the Columns toward campus upon arriving at the College, they ceremonially walk through the other direction and out into the world following graduation.

Family, friends and faculty cheered loudly as the graduates passed through the Columns, an event that victoriously punctuated the end of a highly unusual year for the Class of 2021. The graduates were commended throughout the ceremonies for their flexibility and openness to change.

G. David Gearhart, EdD — Class of 1974 and a Chancellor Emeritus and Professor of Higher Education at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville — delivered the Commencement 2021 address. The day’s events also included an honorary degree ceremony, the Seniors of the Year awards, and the Faculty of the Year award.

Interim President and Chief Transformation Officer Donald P. Lofe Jr., Class of 1979, recently noted that the graduates’ fortitude is inspiring.

“I hold the Class of 2021 in high regard, for both their perseverance under unusual circumstances brought on by the pandemic and for their scholarly achievement,” Lofe said. “As an alumnus myself and someone who is part of the 170-year history of this institution, I know well that their liberal arts education is the strong foundation for their futures.”

Lofe was unanimously appointed President and Chief Transformation Officer by the College’s Board of Trustees on April 6. He officially assumes his duties on July 1.

To view Commencement 2021 in its entirety, please visit Westminster’s YouTube page.

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