Taylor University’s 177th commencement ceremony, scheduled for May 20, will recognize the accomplishments of 419 graduates and three honorary doctorate recipients.
President D. Michael Lindsay will deliver the commencement speech prior to the conferral of degrees. He notes this decision reflects a tradition in American higher education of university presidents addressing incoming students at orientation and the graduating class at commencement.
Having recently completed his first year of tenure as the university’s president, Lindsay looks forward to addressing the class of 2023.
“I’m excited to initiate that tradition at Taylor this year after the wonderful remarks by Paige Cunningham at last year’s Commencement,” Lindsay said.
Prior to his time at Taylor, Lindsay served as a sociology faculty member at Rice University and, more recently, as the president of Gordon College. An Outstanding Young Alumnus of Baylor University, he holds graduate theological degrees from Wycliffe Hall at Oxford University and Princeton Theological Seminary, along with a Ph.D. in sociology from Princeton University. Lindsay has authored more than two dozen scholarly and book publications, among other accomplishments.
Preceding President Lindsay’s speech in the commencement program, senior Claire Nieshalla will be delivering an address on behalf of the graduating class. Nieshalla is graduating with a B.A. in public relations.
“I am humbled by this opportunity and look forward to representing the senior class on a day that is the culmination of four years of hard work, dedication, learning and community,” Nieshalla said. “I hope and pray that May 20th is a day of remembering God’s faithfulness the last four years, resulting in a renewed trust in the Lord’s promises for our futures.”
As a student athlete on the women’s soccer team, member of the Honors Guild, active participant in chapel band and member of The Echo staff for a season, Nieshalla’s time at Taylor has been invested in multiple spaces. After commencement, she looks forward to joining the Venture Club of Indiana, Inc. as a recipient of the Orr Fellowship.
Following the senior address, the university will award three honorary doctorate degrees to Jamie Haenggi, Tom Lin and Russ Pulliam. These degrees recognize individuals who exemplify the university’s mission and have significantly impacted the institution.
Haenggi will be receiving a doctorate of business, honoris causa.
“(She) has led a remarkable career in business leadership along with an incredible faith journey,” Lindsay said.
Currently president of ADT Solar, and formerly the executive vice president and chief customer officer of ADT Security Services, Haenggi’s business career is marked by over 25 years of leadership. As a member of the Board of Visitors and as the parent of a Taylor graduate, she has also chosen to support and invest in the Taylor community.
Lin will be receiving a doctorate of public service, honoris causa.
Lin’s presidency of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, coupled with years of ministerial service in higher education, demonstrate a commitment to campus ministry. He delivered the commencement speech in 2020 and, over the years, has developed close relationships with Taylor graduates involved in campus ministries.
“His career spans decades in servant-leadership, and we’re thrilled for the chance to recognize his service to the global church,” Lindsay said.
Pulliam will be receiving a doctorate of humane letters, honoris causa.
A writer, columnist and editor, Pulliam’s journalistic career began with The Associated Press before continuing with the Indianapolis News and Indianapolis Star. His generosity, coupled with support from the Pulliam Journalism Center at Taylor University, has paved the way for students interested in Taylor’s journalism program.
“(Pulliam) is deeply passionate about furthering the Gospel through informed, professional reporting,” Lindsay said. “We’re so grateful for his support of Taylor over the years.”
Other notable aspects of the commencement program include comments from Chair of the Board of Trustees Chris L. Goeglein (‘84) and Provost Jewerl Maxwell. A recognition of retiring faculty members will be followed by the presentation of servant towels and Bibles to members of the graduating class.
This tradition, unique to Taylor University, reminds graduates of their commitment to a servant leadership model marked by Christ’s redemptive love, grace and truth.
Towels will be presented by Skip Trudeau, vice president for student development, Nancy Dayton, dean of Arts, Humanities, Business and Higher Education, and Grace Miller, dean of Science, Education and Social Sciences. The presentation of Bibles will be led by Rebecca Lindsay, first lady and ambassador for the university, Kari Rosato (Reiskytl ’94), board vice chair spouse, and Cyndy Turner, board spouse.
Musical selections throughout the ceremonies will be accompanied by a range of instrumentalists, including a brass quintet, organist Stephen Price, bagpiper Hope Oaks, vocalist and Assistant Professor of Music Loralee Songer and the Taylor Sounds Chamber Ensemble.
“We can’t wait for Commencement,” Lindsay said. “It’s going to be a great day, and we’re very excited!”
The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 20 in the Kesler Student Activities Center. Further commencement details can be found at taylor.edu/events/commencement.