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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Thursday, May 30, 2024
The Echo
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Taylor honors 2024 graduates at commencement

Taylor University plans to celebrate the class of 2024 and recognize three honorary doctorate recipients at this year’s commencement ceremony, scheduled at 10 a.m. on May 18 in the Kesler Student Activities Center.

The school is looking forward to honoring this year’s graduates, President D. Michael Lindsay said. This will be Taylor’s 178th commencement ceremony, and as a tradition, Lindsay and the three honorary doctorate recipients will provide the class with words of encouragement.

“It’s going to be a great day of celebration,” Lindsay said.

Taylor plans to confer five honorary doctorates this year to Philip Anschutz, Jamie Fellowes, Jim Morris, Edgar Sandoval and Elaine Vandermeulen. The university bestows these degrees as a way of recognizing figures who have faithfully committed themselves to the work of Christ in their respective fields, according to their website.

Will Hagen, vice president for strategy and chief of staff, said three of this year’s recipients — Edgar Sandoval, Jamie Fellowes and Jim Morris — will be present to receive their degree and address the graduating class during the ceremony. The other two recipients will receive their doctorates at other times in the year.

Edgar Sandoval is the president and CEO of the humanitarian aid organization, World Vision, where he has generated over $1 billion in donations, launched a child sponsorship program and traveled to various countries, according to World Vision’s website. He will receive the doctor of divinity degree, honoris causa.

Jamie Fellowes serves as the Chairman of the Board at Fellowes Brands and was named “Legend of the Industry” by Business Solutions Associations in 2022. He will receive the doctor of business degree, honoris causa.

Jim Morris will be recognized for his achievements in philanthropic and political settings. He has held positions including the president of the Lilly Endowment, Executive Director of the United Nations’ World Food Programme and chief of staff to the previous Indianapolis mayor Richard Lugar. He will be honored with the doctor of public service degree, honoris causa.

In addition to the conferral of honorary doctorates, Saturday’s program will include a brief address made by a graduating student.

Representing 398 graduates, this year’s student address speaker is senior Damon Montogomery, who will graduate with a degree in biology. In the upcoming years, Montgomery said he plans to move to Cincinnati and work at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital where he will pursue a doctorate in molecular and developmental biology.

Various faculty across campus recommended a senior in their department they thought would make a good student address speaker, and Montgomery was the Biology Department’s recommendation.

Montgomery said Provost Jewerl Maxwell’s office notified the student candidates that they had been recommended and asked each of them to write a one-paragraph sample of what they would discuss in their speech if they were chosen.

“I mean, I was pretty excited,” Montgomery said. “I never thought anyone would think of me because I do kind of fly under the radar. But I was like, ‘Oh, awesome.’ I’ll throw my hat in the ring. This opportunity doesn’t just get handed to everyone.”

A committee then reviews the students’ submissions and chooses one they want to be read at commencement. 

Montgomery was notified of his selection a couple of weeks ago and since then has been perfecting and memorizing his speech. He wants the graduating class to reflect on where they have been and where they are going.

“And the medium I deliver that through is through a metaphor of the shoes we wear,” Montgomery said. “So it’s kind of talking about the steps we’ve taken, starting first day freshman year till now.”

Soon the seniors’ steps will be taking them across the commencement stage and into their next stage of life. 
For more details about this year’s ceremony, visit https://www.taylor.edu/events/commencement.