May 16, 2017
On Sunday, May 14, Hampden-Sydney College celebrated Commencement marking the conclusion of the College's 242nd year. Parents and friends gathered to watch the 202 graduates walk across Venable Lawn and receive their diplomas.
After an introduction by President Larry Stimpert, James Hua Lau gave the valedictory address, a distinction he earned with a 3.9931 grade point average.
The College honored several students, faculty, and staff as a part of Commencement.
The Class of 2017 also presented the College with a check for $3,116 towards a scholarship in honor of Lieutenant Colonel (Ret.) Rucker Snead '81, Director of the Wilson Center for Leadership in the Public Interest.
This year, one ROTC cadet was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army. Rear Admiral (Ret.) Frank Rennie administered the Oath of Office as Stewart Reese Lawrence received his Gold Bars.
Following the presentation of awards, Bret Stephens, a columnist for the New York Times and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, gave the commencement address. Entitled, "Leave Your Safe Spaces," his speech encouraged graduates to engage in discussions with those who have opposing viewpoints, and to venture outside their intellectual comfort zones.The College awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters to both Mr. Stephens and Nancy Gray, who delivered the Baccalaureate speech, for their contributions to the life of the mind, distinguished service, and strong commitment to public service.
President Larry Stimpert closed Commencement with his charge to the graduating class. Quoting the late Admiral Hyman Richover, he told the graduates to "'seek and accept responsibility, to persevere, to be committed to excellence, to be creative and courageous, to be unrelenting in the pursuit of intellectual development, to maintain high standards of ethics and morality, and to bring these basic principles of existence to bear through active participation in life.'"