In the mid-morning hours on Saturday, May 5, Lees-McRae College faculty and staff guided 266 elated students across the Commencement stage.
The threat of inclement weather didn’t stop college community members, family and friends from gathering on the lawn of Tate Residence Hall to watch their former Lees-McRae student become an official graduate.
The ceremony began with an invocation from Newland Presbyterian Church Pastor, Rev. Michael McKee, before a welcome from class of 2018 graduate, Seth Gibbons.
“These [past four] years are times that we will not soon forget,” Gibbons said. That no matter what memories may stand out to you, “like your first day of class in the nursing building, salamander surveys at the field station or being snowed in,” everyone is a part of the Bobcat family “whether you are an online student, transfer or were on campus the whole time.”
Gibbons’ remarks were then followed by the presentation of the honorary doctoral degree in business administration to Paul H. Broyhill by Lees-McRae President, Barry M. Buxton, and Provost and Dean of Faculty, Todd M. Lidh.
“The honorary doctorate is given in recognition of distinguished leadership, service and dedication to Lees-McRae as well as the community at large,” Lidh said.
Broyhill, a native of Lincolnton, North Carolina, pursued his degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before joining the army and serving in the infantry until the end of World War II. Following his return, Broyhill joined his father’s business—Broyhill Furniture. Over the years, Broyhill has contributed to multiple religious, civic and educational contributions including the Lees-McRae Broyhill Theatre in Hayes Auditorium and the Broyhill Wellness Center in the Cannon Student Center.
“Paul, we are particularly grateful to you for your support of our beloved Lees-McRae,” Buxton said. “To date, the Broyhill Family Foundation has donated over $1.1 million to Lees-McRae.”
Before graduating the class of 2018, Buxton took the stage one more time as the 2018 Commencement speaker.
His speech titled, “Life’s Lessons from the School of Hard Knocks,” gave nine suggestions on how to be successful, insight on happiness and “what really matters in life,” Buxton said. His suggestions to the graduates spanned from “giving yourself to help others,” finding a healthy work-life balance, thinking critically and “defining yourself by what you love.”
“It’s all about the journey,” Buxton went on to share. “Enjoy the ride and smell the roses. Learn as much as you can, share it with others as a teacher of life, have compassion, be enthusiastic, and love each other. Corinthians 13:4 reminds us: ‘Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.’ Oh, and by the way, don’t forget your alma mater!”