On May 21, Taylor University will hold its commencement exercises for 456 graduates, during which students and Christian leaders will be honored for their service and achievements.
The commencement address will be presented by former Interim President Paige Comstock Cunningham (‘77), who served from 2019-2021 at Taylor. Prior to this, Cunningham served on the board of trustees for 17 years and has been active in the Taylor community.
“It was a delightful surprise and honor to be invited by (President Michael Lindsay) to address our seniors this year,” Cunningham said. “In that moment, the Holy Spirit began shaping a message in my heart. I can’t wait to see what God has for us!”
Cunningham received her bachelor's degree from Taylor University, Juris Doctor degree from Northwestern University Law School, master’s degree in bioethics from Trinity International University and doctorate in educational studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. In her career, Cunningham has served as the executive director of The Center for Bioethics & Human Dignity and as an affiliate professor of Trinity Law School and Trinity Graduate School, among other accomplishments.
Senior Caleb Rolling will be the student speaker at commencement. Rolling, originally from New Concord Ohio, will be graduating with a bachelor's in biblical literature with a minor in English literature.
“It’s an honor to be chosen to be the student speaker at commencement, and I feel grateful, yet humbled,” Rolling said. “This isn’t anything I would have ever expected, and there are many excellent students who are immensely qualified for this role, so it’s quite humbling to have been chosen from among my highly capable classmates.”
During his time at Taylor, Rolling has been heavily involved with his wing, Third East Wengatz, worked as a research assistant at Zondervan library and served in a chapel band. Following graduation, he plans to attend Wheaton College Graduate School to pursue a master of arts in biblical exegesis.
Taylor will also award honorary doctorate degrees to Bishop Claude Alexander Jr., Janie Kesler and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Each honoree was chosen for their service in the church and to the Taylor community and will receive a degree correlating to the nature of their service.
“The Board and I are deeply excited for the opportunity to recognize these exemplars of the faith, and we give thanks to God for their impact across so many areas of the church and wider society,” Lindsay said.
Alexander serves as the pastor of The Park Church in Charlotte, North Carolina and the current chair of the board of directors of Christianity Today. He obtained his bachelor's degree in philosophy at Morehouse College, his master’s of divinity degree from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and his doctorate in ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
He will be receiving a doctorate of divinity, honoris causa.
Kesler served as the first lady of Taylor alongside her husband, Jay (‘68), during his presidency. She has also served as a goodwill ambassador and remained actively involved in the Taylor community for years.
She will be receiving a doctorate of public service, honoris causa.
Wolgemuth is a widely-published author of books like “Adorned” and “Lies Young Women Believe.” She is also the founder of the organization Revive Our Hearts and a radio show host. In 2015, she married Robert Wolgemuth (‘69), a Taylor University alumnus, author and publisher.
Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is a graduate of the University of Southern California, where she studied piano performance and will be honored with a doctorate of humane letters, honoris causa.
"What a joy it has been to be a part of the Wolgemuth family since Robert and I married in 2015,” Wolgemuth wrote in a statement emailed to The Echo. “And now what a privilege it is to be honored in this way by the school that has meant so much to this family for (thus far!) four generations. In a day when our world is in such distress and truth has fallen prey to every conceivable ‘ism’ and adversary, I am grateful for Taylor's commitment to the timely, timeless, unchanging, life-giving, glory-filled Word of God."
As per Taylor tradition, each graduate will be presented with a towel and Bible, as a reminder of their commitment to being servant leaders marked with a passion to minister Christ’s redemptive love.
The presentation of the towels will be led by Skip Trudeau, vice president for student development, Grace Miller, dean of sciences, and Nancy Dayton, dean of arts, humanities, business and higher education.
Bibles will be presented by Rebecca Lindsay, first lady and ambassador for the university, Debra Goeglein (‘84), board chair spouse and Mariah Hurst, presidential fellow.
Additionally, brief comments will be given by Lindsay, Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees Manuel Rosado (‘96) and Provost Jewerl Maxwell. Special music will be provided by Professor Emeritus JoAnn Rediger (‘71), Associate Professor of Music Connor Angell (‘06), the Taylor Sounds Chamber Ensemble and bagpiper Hope Oaks.
Commencement is scheduled for May 21 at 10 a.m. in the Kesler Student Activities Center. Commencement information can be viewed at taylor.edu/events/commencement.