Commencement Awards President Emeritus and Celebrates Graduating Class of 2018

June 29, 2018

On Thursday, June 28, Olivet University’s commencement ceremony concluded at the Riverside main campus. 

The event began with Dr. Matthias Gebhardt, Olivet University’s vice president, introducing all the guest, students, administrative staff, and faculty.

President Dr. Tracy Davis gave the welcoming speech and awarded the President Emeritus title to the director of Olivet Institute for Global Strategic Studies, professor of Zinzendorf School of Doctoral Studies, Dr. William Lyle Wagner, who previously served as the University’s president, in recognition of his sincere service to Olivet.

Olivet welcomed its distinguished commencement speaker, Dr. Steven Crowther, president of Grace College of Divinity, who preached a motivational speech to all the graduating students. 

"God has already done the transformation, and He will continue the process in you and through you,” said Dr. Crowther.

Speaking of the future, Dr. Crowther suggested that many leaders have not considered the future as much as they should in order to forge the actions today to achieve the optimal future.

 “We are not just the bystanders of the future, but we are the creators of the future,” he said, “God has given you a vision and strategic understanding of the future, and God will give you a new way of doing things.”

By using Jesus’ parable of putting new wine into new wineskins, Dr. Crowther advised future leaders not to hang onto the status quo.

“But you have to start the movement of churches, businesses, and social responses. Because God is the God of multiplication. God is the movement maker, not just the keeper,” he said.  

Dr. Crowther also spoke about the importance of knowing your calling because that is - who you are.   

“The calling is very unique in each of you. Each of you has a task. Each of you has a purpose, a divine calling. It’s not just what you do, but it’s what you are,” he said. 

And Dr. Crowther said there is more than just fulfilling the calling. 

 “As you are fulfilling the calling, God will give you two things, he will give you joy and success,” he added, “People are asking about the secret to life. This is the secret of life- the calling of God.”

Lastly, Dr. Crowther exhorted graduates to hold onto the calling in all circumstances and be comforted by the eternal reward that God has promised. 

“Even the things you don’t like about yourself,  He planted in you on purpose. God is right there to help you become the person you are today and in the future,” he said, “Do not let anyone in life take away your calling… no matter what happens,  don’t deter from your calling.”

Following the speech was the conferring of degrees in course.  The chapel erupted with congratulations and applause as jubilated students marched proudly onto the stage to receive their certificates and diplomas.  

The graduating student speaker, Dr. Anabella Lima Goncalves, represented her peers by sharing a heartwarming message about her calling to Christian missions. After several months of Bible studies, when her heart was on fire, she did mission in Africa, Latin America, and Europe. She considered this as a true blessing from God. Dr. Goncalves shared her heartfelt gratitude toward Olivet University for enriching her and raising many other biblical scholars.

Dr. Merril Smoak, dean of Jubilee College of Music, led the closing song and Dr. Joseph Ray Tallman, director of Olivet Branch Institute of Islamic Understanding, closed the event by blessing all the graduates with the benediction. The ceremony ended gracefully with all the graduates, guests and Riverside members taking a group photo in the courtyard.

May all the graduates continue Olivet's vision and mission for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

For more Olivet University News visit