An estimated 3,500 people attended Sunday’s record-setting commencement ceremonies in the Siena Heights University Fieldhouse.
The official celebration for students on the Adrian campus and for students in Siena’s Southfield, Monroe, Port Huron, Rochester, Ann Arbor, Jackson, Lansing and Distance Learning programs had approximately 375 students participate, a record for the institution founded in 1919.
President Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, conferred degrees on the graduates after delivering a short welcome and address. This is her first commencement as President of Siena Heights.
A high point of the ceremony was the awarding of an honorary degree to a distinguished Siena Heights alum. Nancyann Turner, OP, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the ceremony. The Adrian Dominican Sister is a renowned artist who uses her talent and art therapy skills to help others. Besides having worked in Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, D.C., she also worked with the Capuchin Soup Kitchen in Detroit, where she established and has continued to coordinate a children’s project, the Rosa Parks Children and Youth Program. This project provides after-school and summer opportunities for children in the heart of Detroit to experience art, music, gardening and the development of conflict resolution skills. In 2005, the Siena Heights Alumni Association honored her with the Saint Dominic Award for her contributions to the world.
Other commencement highlights included:
- Amanda Dowdy, De’Angelo Boone and Terese Cracchiolo were the student speakers for the event.
- In its 14th year, the Kente Ceremony, was conducted Sunday before commencement ceremonies. African-American alumni presented Kente stoles to bachelor’s and master’s degree candidates of color.
- A Baccalaureate Mass for graduates and families of all faiths was conducted Sunday morning in Lumen Ecclesiae Chapel.
- A commencement brunch will be available on the main campus from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. May 6 in Benincasa Dining Hall.
- A longstanding Siena Heights tradition, Torch Night, was conducted Saturday evening on the main campus. This cherished tradition involved a symbolic exchange between a graduate and another Siena student who is not yet ready to graduate.
- Receptions for graduates and their guests were conducted immediately following commencement ceremonies on the Fieldhouse lawn.