Eastern Mennonite University will culminate its 2010-11 school year with its 93rd annual commencement exercises 1 p.m. Sunday, May 1, on the front lawn of campus, weather permitting.
President Loren Swartzendruber will confer 451 degrees – 320 undergraduate (including 119 Adult Degree Completion Program graduates), 120 graduate, (5 graduate certificates and 6 study and pastoral ministry certificates on graduates of the STEP (Training for Effective Pastoral Ministry) program at EMU Lancaster (PA). Last year, EMU awarded 432 degrees.
Michael (Mike) Berenstain of Doylestown, Pa., will give the commencement address on the theme, “Simple Gifts: Thoughts from Childhood.” His son, Samuel Berenstain, is a member of the undergraduate class of 2011. He will receive a BA degree in environmental sustainability.
Berenstain attended art school in Philadelphia in the early 1970s, then worked as a designer in the children’s book department of a New York publisher before starting his career as an author and illustrator. His first children’s book was published in 1976, followed by some 30 more over the next 16 years, ranging in subject matter from wizards to dinosaurs.
Since the late 1980s Michael has done most of the illustrating for the family-owned business that was started in the 1960s by his parents, Stan and Jan Berenstain of Solebury Township, Pa., Stan died in 2005 at age 82. Jan, 86, still collaborates with Michael on creative input and drawings.
Stan and Jan Berenstain introduced the Bear family of Mama, Papa and Small Bear, in their first children’s book, “The Big Honey Hunt,” published in 1962. More than 140 Berenstain Bear books are currently in print with the publishers Random House, HarperCollins and Zonderkidz. About 260 million copies in the series have been sold.
Michael is the author and illustrator of the new Berenstain Bears “Living Lights” series, the first faith-based books. The series follows the Berenstain Bears as they learn morals like the golden rule and loving your neighbor.
During the ceremony, “graduates’ perspectives” will be given by undergraduates Megan Grove, Greencastle, Pa., and Mitchell Stutzman, Middlebury, Ind.; ADCP graduate Nona Allen, Elkton, Va., and graduate student Erica Yutzy, Harrisonburg.
The seniors have elected Peter Dula, assistant professor of religion and culture at EMU, to be speaker for the baccalaureate service to be held 7 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 30, in Lehman Auditorium.
Dr. Dula, an EMU alumnus, received a PhD in theology and ethics from Duke University in 2004. Before joining the EMU faculty in 2006 he was Iraq program coordinator with Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, Pa. He has taught at Lancaster (PA) Mennonite High School and at the Meserete Kristos College in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he was a Fulbright scholar in 2001-02.
The salutation will be given by senior class co-presidents Janelle Freed, Collegeville, Pa., and Braydon Hoover, Elizabethtown, Pa.
EMU music students will give a short concert in Martin Chapel immediately following the baccalaureate service. President and Mrs. Swartzendruber will host a reception for the graduates and their families in the University Commons, second floor corridor, immediately following that program.
In case of rain, commencement exercises will be held in the Yoder Arena of University Commons, which can accommodate 3,600 people. An announcement to that effect will be made by 9 a.m. that day on the EMU web site, on the EMU activities line, 432-4362, and on area radio stations.