It’s my favorite time of year as Lewis-Clark State College students will soon be awarded the degrees and certificates they’ve earned. We expect another robust class – perhaps even a record-setting total – to graduate and be honored at our commencement ceremonies in Coeur d’Alene on Sunday, May 7, and in Lewiston on Friday, May 12. I would love for you to join us at one or both of these celebrations.
The Coeur d’Alene commencement ceremony will take place at 2 p.m. at the Schuler Performing Arts Center on the North Idaho College campus. There will be a number of dignitaries in attendance including Idaho State Board of Education (SBOE) member Don Soltman and Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer, who will offer the commencement address.
The Lewiston ceremony, held at the LCSC Activity Center, will begin at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 4 p.m. (if you’re unable to attend, the event will be streamed live online). We’ll be honored by the presence of many special guests including President’s Medallion recipient Edmund O. Schweitzer, III, president and chairman of the board of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and Emma Atchley, SBOE president. In addition, for the first time in many years, we’ve invited a guest speaker from outside the LC Valley to offer the commencement address. I’m very excited that Mr. Juan Williams, who spoke at LCSC’s 1994 commencement, has accepted our invitation to return to Lewiston as our guest speaker. Mr. Williams, who has delivered commencement addresses at colleges and university across the country, is a bestselling author, a learned speaker on the civil rights movement, and an award-winning political commentator and columnist. His impressive career spans decades and political ideologies and with over 30 years in the public spotlight he remains one of the most respected political commentators, authors, and thinkers of our day. In today’s politically polarized world, LCSC students can benefit from Mr. Williams’ broad experience and unique perspective. In addition to speaking, prior to the ceremony he will hold a book signing, with copies of his newest books available, from 1-2 p.m. in the Williams Conference Center lobby. I encourage you to attend.
We’ve enjoyed a record number of graduates the past two years, including an unprecedented total of 795 last year, and early estimates suggest that another all-time high could be set this spring. This is somewhat surprising given the fact that we were expecting to see a leveling off after saying goodbye to so many graduates last year. The current graduate count is nearing 800 and the expected number of degrees to be awarded is 916, which also would be a record. We’ve been proud and excited to see three straight years of enrollment growth (we’re up by 23 percent from 10 years ago), but we’re even prouder to have so many students graduating. LCSC has seen a record number of graduates in six of the past eight years, and that streak may continue this year.
Parents and supporters will realize just how beautiful the LCSC campus is in the spring when they visit for commencement. Patrons who attended Art Under the Elms, a signature event of the Dogwood Festival, learned this first hand last weekend. The trees were in full bloom and it was another great event. I thank the many coordinators, vendors, volunteers, and sponsors who make it such a fun weekend every year.
Speaking of events, we cannot forget the Avista-NAIA World Series coming up on May 26 through June 2 at what is now called Ed Cheff Stadium at Harris Field. Legendary Warrior baseball coach Ed Cheff’s name, which is synonymous with LCSC baseball, was affixed to the stadium by the athletic department. I applaud the move and look forward to applauding the Warriors at every tournament game as they look to carry on Cheff’s winning tradition in pursuit of their 19th national title.
I look forward to seeing you at a commencement ceremony, at a Dogwood Festival event, or at the ballpark. Wherever we’re at, I’m sure we’ll be saying – go Warriors!
J. Anthony Fernandez
President, Lewis-Clark State College