posted April 6, 2009

Graduation Activities Scheduled for May 3

Baccalaureate and Commencement at Hope College are scheduled for Sunday, May 3.

More than 700 graduating seniors will be participating in this year's graduation exercises, the college's 144th.

Commencement will be held at 3 p.m. at Holland Municipal Stadium. Baccalaureate will be held earlier in the day, at 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. in Dimnent Memorial Chapel.

The Commencement speaker will be Ellen Tanis Awad, who is director of student life and associate director of the Center for Faithful Leadership at Hope.  The Baccalaureate sermon will be delivered by Dr. William C. Brownson, who is president emeritus of Words of Hope.

Awad is in her 13th year as a member of the Hope staff.  She directs the overall student activities program for the college, which includes dozens of student organizations ranging from the "Anchor" student newspaper, to Dance Marathon, to the college's fraternities and sororities, to the Pull and the Nykerk Cup competition, to the Social Activities Committee, to Student Congress.  She provides oversight each summer to the New Student Orientation program, which is implemented by student interns.  Her joint appointment with both student development and the Center for Faithful Leadership reflects the two programs' shared emphasis on enhancing student leadership development through opportunities to grow and learn through concrete experience such as co-curricular involvement.

Awad graduated from Hope cum laude in 1990 with psychology-sociology composite and sociology majors, and completed a Master of Education degree in college student personnel at the University of Georgia in 1993.  After completing her graduate degree she was a resident director at Michigan State University for two years before returning to Hope in residence life in 1995.

She has been at Hope for most of the years since, except for a year at Augustana College as director of housing during the 1999-2000 school year.  From her time in residence life, which included service as both a resident director in a single hall and as a residential coordinator with responsibility for multiple residence halls, she moved to the student activities program in 2003.

Awad's husband, Habeeb Awad, is international student advisor and an instructor in Arabic at Hope.  They met when they worked at a Reformed Church camp in Warwick, N.Y., and were married in his home church in Bethlehem, Palestine.  They have two children, Sophie and Simon.

Brownson received his bachelor's degree with Phi Beta Kappa honors from Davidson College in 1949 and graduated from Columbia Theological Seminary in 1952.  He pursued doctoral work at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was awarded the Th.D. degree in New Testament studies in 1963.

Brownson has served Reformed churches in Lodi, N.J., and Chicago, Ill.  In 1964 he was appointed Professor of Preaching at Western Theological Seminary, a position he occupied for 10 years.  From 1972 to 1994 he served as radio speaker for the Reformed Church international broadcast "Words of Hope."  He was president of the Reformed Church in America during 1984-85.

In addition to a widespread speaking ministry in churches, on university campuses and at conferences, he has written extensively for "The Church Herald" and other Christian periodicals.  He is the author of 17 books.

His wife, Helen, has served as an educator and minister of outreach at Christ Memorial Church in Holland.  They reside in Holland and are the parents of four sons:  William and David, deceased, James (Kathy) and Jonathan (Jeannette), and have six grandchildren, Rachel, Anna, Benjamin, Joanna, Will and Samuel.

Brownson continues to be busy in retirement, teaching on occasion at Western Theological Seminary, serving as a prayer leader at Christ Memorial Church, leading Bible studies and giving lectures regularly at Freedom Village, preaching on "Words of Hope" programs in the summer months, and spending time with family.

In the event of rain, Commencement will be held at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse. Admission to Baccalaureate, and to Commencement if indoors, is by ticket only.