Dr. Kent Keith, known internationally for his “Paradoxical Commandments,” received an honorary doctorate Saturday during Tusculum College’s commencement ceremonies.
Two hundred and seventy-five students received degrees during the two commencement ceremonies in Pioneer Arena. During the morning ceremony 24 students earned master of art degrees in education and 84 earned bachelor of science degrees in organizational management. In the afternoon service 167 students earned bachelor of arts degrees.
During the afternoon ceremony, members of the Class of 1959 were recognized, as they are celebrating their 50th reunion year. Ten members of the class, dressed in golden robes and caps, led the procession of the graduating students into the arena. Prior to the ceremony, the class members were given a luncheon in their honor by the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations and presented with medallions to mark their milestone.
Dr. Keith was presented with an honorary doctorate of humane letters during the afternoon ceremony. He was selected for an honorary doctorate “in recognition of all these achievements, his work in the field of education and his dedicated service to mankind,” said Dr. Melinda Dukes, associate vice president of academic affairs.
A dynamic speaker and writer whose mission is to help people find personal meaning in a crazy world, Dr. Keith has earned international recognition for his “Paradoxical Commandments” which were part of a booklet for student leaders he wrote and published in 1968 as a college sophomore. His book became a national bestseller and has been translated into 17 languages.
The book inspired three subsequent books related to the Paradoxical Commandments, which include: “Do It Anyway,” “Jesus Did It Anyway” and “Have Faith Anyway.” Dr. Keith is also the author of the “Universal Moral Code,” a set of fundamental moral principles that can be found throughout the world, and “The Case for Servant Leadership,” published in 2008. Tusculum College was honored to have Dr. Keith as a speaker on campus last year when he addressed servant leadership and its role in living a meaningful life as part of the Cicero Lecture Series of the College’s Acts, Arts, Academia 2008-09 performance and lecture series.
In 2007, Dr. Keith became chief executive officer of the Greenleaf Center, based in Indiana. The center is an international non-profit organization that promotes the understanding and practice of servant leadership through conferences, the publication of books and materials, sponsorship of speakers and seminars and the distribution of information and services for its members.
Prior to his service at the Greenleaf Center, Dr. Keith served as director of planning and economic development in the cabinet of the Governor of Hawaii; as project manager for the Mililani Technology Park in Hawaii; as president of Chaminade University, and as senior vice president for the YMCA of Honolulu. He was also an attorney in a private law firm.
Dr. Keith earned a bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University, a master’s degree in philosophy and politics from Oxford University, a law degree from the University of Hawaii and a doctorate in education from University of Southern California. He is a Rhodes Scholar and has a certificate in Japanese from Waseda University. He has served on boards of schools and colleges, was a member of the Hawaii State Department of Education Task Force on Restructuring the Curriculum, served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Western College Association and has chaired college accreditation teams.
The graduates’ achievements are the focus of Tusculum’s commencement ceremonies, and four graduates were chosen by the faculty to make comments as representatives of their classmates.
Speaking in the morning ceremony was Pamela Snyder of Morristown, who earned a bachelor of science degree in organizational management. Snyder asked her fellow graduates if they were ready to pass the test of the real world. “I hope that together we can pass the test of the real world – through persistence, attitude, setting goals and finding success.”
Karen Holweg of Morristown also spoke during the morning ceremony, representing her fellow classmates who earned master of art degrees in education. Holweg spoke of her experience as a student in the Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program and how she learned from others’ experiences — her professors and her classmates. She encouraged her fellow education graduates to use their new knowledge in their classrooms to enhance learning.
Speakers for the afternoon ceremony were Jeremiah Peterson of Unicoi, representing students from the traditional Residential College program, and Beth Weatherall of Morristown representing those students who earned bachelor of arts degrees in education, including those who earned degrees through the GPS program for working adults.
Peterson told his fellow graduates that commencement marked an opportunity for further growth, a new start and to accept new challenges. “Growth happens when we step into the indefinite, and today, as we leave here, we are stepping into the indefinite,” he said. “I mean, have you seen the news lately? We must be brave. Being brave does not mean feeling no fear, it means acting in the face of fear. We cannot be static. We must continue to learn and evolve. So, it is my hope that each one of us will be courageous as we face the unknown and find continuous growth in our lives.”
Weatherall said she was “leaving Tusculum a new person, excited about the prospects ahead of me. The lessons I will hold most dear are the ones I hope you will embrace also, they are: be patient, be helpful, be available, strive to be the best, help students know they are winners, make learning fun and engaging, don’t be afraid to do the unconventional, be enthusiastic, be artistic, enjoy reading and teach your students to enjoy reading, be fair, and love children and let them love you.”
Dr. Stephen Weisz, college chaplain and associate professor of religious studies, delivered the baccalaureate sermon, “Where There is No Map” during both ceremonies. Dr. Weisz spoke of Abraham who was directed by God to go an unknown land. “Even if you are confident about your future, you will be called to march off your map,” he told the graduates, encouraging them to continue to have faith in God who is faithful and knows what lies ahead.