This past April, an email to faculty announced that the traditional “Honors Chapel” would undergo changes so seniors and faculty receive greater recognition for their achievements.
Now stripped of its previously mentioned title, this chapel service takes place on the final Monday of each school year.
In the past, it served as a period where most educational departments would award select seniors in their discipline and additional commendations would be presented as well. However, Taylor leadership, including the likes of former president Paige Cunningham, realized one chapel session did not provide seniors their deserved spotlight.
“As you probably know, most students don’t attend this particular chapel, which dilutes the purpose of chapel, and robs our students of recognition for their achievements,” the faculty email said.
Deb Carpenter, administrative assistant to the provost, began a partnership with The Echo and Tim Ziegler, academic technology specialist, to combat this trend.
The Echo will announce each senior who receives an award in an announcement, set to be released May 9. With the help of Ziegler, TV monitors across campus will also project senior’s accomplishments so that fellow Taylor students can have an additional way to celebrate their peers.
“It feels like a win-win for us,” said Campus Pastor Jon Cavanagh. “Because I do think for students in that last week of chapel, we want to make that as meaningful as we can for all students, but especially for seniors that are wrapping up their time here.”
Cavanagh said the commemorative edition in The Echo makes senior recognition feel more permanent rather than a fleeting 90-second shoutout, spoken in an already congested chapel. A final commencement edition, also including this list of awards, will be available on May 16 and to families attending spring commencement on May 21.
Jim Garringer, director of media relations, said he has always appreciated how Taylor actively evaluates programs to fulfill its mission as a Christian liberal arts university.
“The Echo is an outstanding resource for the Taylor community that is professionally done from its writing and photography to design and layout,” Garringer said. “It is exciting to see Taylor’s administration partnering with The Echo to applaud the accomplishments of our graduating students.”
In place of Honors Chapel, a retiring or outgoing faculty member is scheduled to speak during that time. Cavanagh said Provost Jewerl Maxwell has yet to announce who or whom will be addressing the award recipients and graduating class. Regardless, Cavanagh said this new addition ties the other final chapel sessions together: senior share on Wednesday and baccalaureate chapel on Friday.
“One of the guiding principles of chapel, for example, is collaboration,” Cavanagh said. “So, it’s good to connect with people to partner with some of those things (academic engagement).”
Another aspect of handling senior awards with increasing depth, Cavanagh said loosening the timeline over a week or two allows for faculty members and awardees to respond and provide feedback. Though the chapel will not generate a theme, Cavanagh said he is looking forward to hearing from the distinguished faculty member or members.
“(They) might offer a message to upperclassmen, seniors, fellow faculty members,” Cavanagh said. “That feels like it’s very fitting with our community.”