One hundred fifty-one students became alumni on Sunday, December 21, at Butler University’s winter commencement. Graduates include 47 from the College of Business, 42 from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, 30 from the College of Education, 17 from the College of Communication, nine from the Jordan College of the Arts, and six from the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

_BS19831Jauvon Gilliam ’01 and Betty Kessler, who earned her teaching certificate from Butler in 1937, received honorary degrees.

Gilliam, who was named Principal Timpanist of the National Symphony Orchestra in 2009 at age 29, told the graduates that “this is the first step in a journey that only gets better from here.”

“Butler has equipped you with the tools needed to survive and thrive in this thing called life,” he said. “You’re ready. Trust yourself and know that your life, and the experiences you’ve had, in all their uniqueness, have placed you right where you need to be at this very moment. Jump in with both feet, and enjoy the ride.”

Kessler, 97, arrived at Butler in 1935 with only one dress in her suitcase and a strong determination to become a teacher of young children. She completed the two-year certificate program at Butler that was required at that time to become an elementary teacher in Indiana. She later earned an education degree through Indiana State University, but regrets that she did not receive a four-year degree from Butler.

Tina Burks, the wife of Butler Board of Trustees Chair Keith Burks, had Kessler as a fourth-grade teacher in Morocco, Indiana. Burks told the graduates that Kessler taught her students “to see and experience other parts of the world.”

“My fondest memory of Mrs. Kessler involves a Christmas gift,” Burks said. “For some odd reason, she picked my name out of the Christmas grab bag, and she gave me a beautiful world globe. While most fourth graders would not ask Santa for a globe, that gift made me feel soooo special…. In our small, rural town, this amazing teacher gave me the world.”


Media contact:
Marc Allan