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Lander Dean Praises Commitment of Graduates

Lander University Master of Business Administration graduate Sergio Alvarez, of Greenwood, receives his master’s hood during a ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 12. Assisting Alvarez are Dr. Mick Fekula, left, dean of the College of Business, and Dr. Cherie Rains, assistant dean of Graduate Studies. Photo by Deb Nygro

Graduation ceremonies are important events, according to Dr. Lloyd Willis, dean of Lander University’s College of Online and Graduate Studies.

“They are a pause in the chaos, a period at the end of a long sentence in the story of our lives. They give us a chance to consider what has been accomplished, what we have been a part of, and what we will take from it,” he said.

For online students, he said, the annual master’s hooding and undergraduate pinning ceremony is especially meaningful. It is often “the first time they have ever come to campus, and they love meeting the people who have worked with them along the way.”

Willis said that the students taking part in this year’s event, held on Tuesday, Dec. 12, were “enrolled at Lander University during the greatest period of growth the university has witnessed in its 150 year history, and they participated directly in the astronomical growth of our graduate and online undergraduate programs,” which have grown from 76 students in 2018 to 1,024 today.

Willis expressed his admiration for the commitment shown by the program’s graduate assistants, who have “worked in Student Services, the Academic Success Center, Procurement, University Relations, and other offices across campus.”

Lander’s Master of Education students earned their degrees while teaching not only in Greenwood, he said, “but also across the state.”

Lander’s Master of Business Administration, Master of Science in Management and Emergency Management students have juggled schoolwork with full-time work as “accountants, auditors, business analysts, city administrators, facilities managers, first responders, HR managers, and the list goes on,” he said.

Many students earned their degrees while not only working full-time, but raising a family, too, and some faced special challenges, like losing a family member or other “agonizing life events. Through all of it, you persevered. I’m pleased to say, on behalf of everyone here, graduates, we could not be more proud of you.”