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Degrees Conferred Upon 197 Graduates, Speaker Elizabeth Roberts Gives 2013 Class Four Suggestions

May 14, 2013. Lees-McRae College conferred degrees upon 197 graduates during commencement exercises Saturday, May 11 beginning at 11 a.m. inside Williams Gymnasium on the campus in Banner Elk.

Graduating Class of 2013
Graduating Class of 2013

President of the Student Government Association, Ms. Cassandra Messer, addressed the students, encouraging them to continue to be unique individuals and do what makes them happy. At the conclusion of her speech, Cassandra introduced Katherine Logan, president of the Faculty Senate, who bestowed upon Drs. Allen and Janet Speer the title of faculty emeritus. Dr. Allen Speer taught at Lees-McRae as a distinguished professor of history for 34 years and his wife, Dr. Janet Barton Speer, taught at Lees-McRae for 35 years and is the founder of and artistic director for Lees-McRae Summer Theatre.

With the help of trustee Capt. Ken Sullivan ’59, President Barry Buxton presented James E. Lauritsen, trustee emeritus, with an honorary doctorate in business administration. Born in Chicago, Mr. Lauritsen, spent his career as a stockbroker and investment executive. For nearly 25 years, Mr. Lauritsen’s service to Lees-McRae College has been commendable and far-reaching. He is a former Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and he and his wife, Kay, are namesakes of The Lauritsen Building, which is home to the Performing Arts Department. Mr. and Mrs. Lauritsen made the Track and Field venue a reality and helped to renovate McMillan Residence Hall. Most recently, Mr. and Mrs. Lauritsen are the founding donors of the Lauritsen Technical Theatre and Design Studio.

After Mr. Lauritsen’s honor, President Buxton also honored this year’s commencement speaker, Ms. Elizabeth H. Roberts, former Director of the Financial Stability Institute (FSI) at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, with an honorary doctorate of business administration.

(left to right) President Buxton, Sandra Aguirre, and Ms. Kate Gavenus
(left to right) President Buxton, Sandra Aguirre, and Ms. Kate Gavenus

During her commencement address, “The World Awaits You,” Ms. Roberts bestowed upon the graduates four friendly suggestions. “My first suggestion is have a plan but don’t stick to it… Without a plan you will simply meander through life in a random matter but I think the real key to success is not just having a plan but a willingness to be flexible with that plan.”

“My second friendly suggestion is to never stop learning. But the fact of the matter is that today your learning is really just beginning… the key I think is to learn as much from your failures as your successes. Go through life with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to expand your horizons,” said Ms. Roberts.

“My third suggestion is to be the best that you can be. Do not settle for mediocrity and never adopt an attitude of ‘okay is good enough’… find your niche, find what you are good at, and then be the best that you can be…find a way to make a contribution to your company, to your community or even to your household,” said Ms. Roberts.

“My fourth and final suggestion is to mind your manners…I think in today’s hectic world, many of us have forgotten common courtesies in life…none of you should underestimate the power of manners in the workplace and in life,” said Ms. Roberts.

Ms. Roberts concluded her address by saying, “I wish I could say my quotation was from Steven Jobs, Thomas Jefferson or Mother Theresa, but mine is from Dr. Seuss. ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.’ And so to the Lees-McRae graduating class of 2013, the world awaits you. I wish you a wonderful journey ahead. May it be interesting, may it be challenging, and, most importantly, may it allow you to make a contribution to the world around you. Good luck!”

At the conclusion of Ms. Roberts’ address, degrees were conferred upon the 197 graduates by President Buxton. Then, Alumni Board President Catherine Button Campe ’89/’91 inducted the Class of 2013 into the Alumni Association.

Campe said, “For the last four years you have been Lees-McRae College students but for the rest of your lives you will be Lees-McRae College Alumni. As you go forth in your life, it is my hope that you will remember and cherish your alma mater. You will always be welcome here and Lees-McRae will always be your home.”

Near the end of the ceremony, President Buxton honored two graduates with the H.C. Evans, Jr. Fidelity Award. Named after the late Dr. H. C. Evans, ninth president of Lees-McRae College, the Fidelity Award recognizes academic excellence, campus citizenship, friendliness, and service to the college and community. The recipient is selected by the graduates themselves, approved by the faculty and administration, and represents the highest ideals of the graduating class. Dr. Evans, after whom this award is now named, used to refer to the Fidelity Award recipient as “Mr. or Miss Lees-McRae College.”

(left to right) President Buxton, Nolan McDaniel, and Dr. Ken Craig
(left to right) President Buxton, Nolan McDaniel, and Dr. Ken Craig

Nolan McDaniel, from Morristown, Tenn., was honored with the Fidelity Award for main campus students. A student admired and respected by faculty, staff, administrators, and his peers for his extraordinary ability and leadership, McDaniel served as Alpha Chi President, Resident Director, Order of the Tower Member, Student Academic Mentor, Student Ambassador, and Burton Center Tutor. He was an active member of the Honors Program and graduated with one of the highest GPAs among seniors. He majored in both Religious Studies and English, and, in the fall, he will be attending The University of Tennessee’s School of Law.

Originally from Honduras, Sandra Aguirre, who now resides in Morganton, N.C., was honored with the Fidelity Award for extended campus students. She is a mother who works full-time at a legal office and she volunteers in the Hispanic community helping immigrants understand their rights and responsibilities in the U.S. She majored in Criminal Justice through Lees-McRae’s extended campus program at Western Piedmont Community College. In addition to the Fidelity Award, Sandra also received the Exemplary Service Award for Criminal Justice.

About the Speaker

Ms. Roberts was the Director of the Financial Stability Institute (FSI) at the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland from June 2000 until her retirement at the end of 2012. In this capacity, she was involved in a wide range of projects to improve financial sector supervision and financial stability in countries around the world. She also served as a lecturer on a broad range of supervisory and financial sector stability topics both at FSI events and at events hosted by other national, regional and international organizations.

Prior to joining the FSI, Ms. Roberts was a staff member of the Federal Reserve Board’s Division of Banking Supervision and Regulation for more than twenty years. In 1993, she was appointed manager of the Division’s International Policy Section where she developed, among other things, the Federal Reserve’s program for supervising the U.S. operations of foreign banks.

In 1996, she was appointed by the Federal Reserve to a three-year secondment to the Secretariat of the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision at the Bank for International Settlements. While with the Basel Committee, Ms. Roberts drafted the Committee’s documents related to numerous risk management topics including credit risk management, corporate governance and internal controls. Upon returning to the Federal Reserve Board in August 1999, Ms. Roberts was appointed manager of the Examination Policy and Procedures Section.

Ms. Roberts has also worked in the International Division of First Union National Bank (now Wachovia) and in retail banking at a community bank in Virginia. Since her retirement, she has continued to work in the area of global financial stability, primarily through special assignments with the International Monetary Fund.

Ms. Roberts has a master’s degree in international finance from the American Graduate School of International Management and a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Studies from Sweet Briar College. She also studied for a year at the Ludwig Maximilian Universitaet in Munich, Germany.


Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, Lees-McRae College is a private, four-year college offering diverse baccalaureate degrees, strong athletic programs and outstanding faculty. With 850 students hailing from 40 states and more than 10 countries, Lees-McRae’s broad core curriculum is enhanced by field-specific career preparation and experiential learning with an emphasis in leadership and service. For more information, please visit www.lmc.edu or call 828-898-5241.