WILSON, N.C. — May 7, 2019 — The Reverend Canon Nontombi Naomi Tutu, Missioner for Racial and Economic Equity at the Cathedral of All Souls in Asheville, will be the featured speaker at the 117th annual commencement exercises of Barton College scheduled for Saturday, May 11, on center campus at 10:30 a.m. Wilson Gymnasium is the rain site. Dr. Douglas N. Searcy will preside over his fourth commencement program as president of Barton College. Dr. Gary Daynes, provost and vice president for academic affairs, will present the 2019 Class of 246 undergraduate and graduate students.
Participating in this year’s commencement ceremony will be students who completed their baccalaureate degree requirements in December 2018 and May 2019, as well as undergraduate candidates who expect to fulfill requirements over the summer. Also participating will be graduates of the Master of Business Administration in Strategic Leadership degree, Master of Science in Nursing degree, and Master of School Administration degree programs.
The three highest honors presented to Barton students: the Coggins Cup, the Hilley Cup, and the Hemby Leadership Cup, will be awarded. The Coggins Cup is presented annually to the student voted best all-around by the Barton faculty and staff. The Hilley Cup is presented annually to the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average. The Hemby Leadership Cup is presented to the graduating senior, who in the estimation of the college community (including students, faculty and staff) has demonstrated outstanding leadership throughout a career at Barton College.
The Lincoln Financial Excellence in Teaching Fund Faculty Member of the Year awards will also be presented. The awards, given annually to two faculty members, include a cash stipend for international study.
Tracy O’Shields Mitchell, class of 1998, president of the Barton College Alumni Association and its Alumni Board, will bring greetings to graduating seniors on behalf of the Alumni Association.
Barton’s Commencement Weekend activities will begin with the baccalaureate service on Friday evening, May 10, at 6 p.m. in Howard Chapel. David Finnegan-Hosey, college chaplain and director of campus ministries, will officiate at the service. A reception for graduating students will follow the baccalaureate service, hosted by Dr. and Mrs. Douglas N. Searcy at the Barton-Graves House.
Earlier in the week, the Hooding Ceremony for the Master of Business Administration in Strategic Leadership graduates in the School of Business will be held on Wednesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. in Hardy Alumni Hall. The Hooding Ceremony for the Master of School Administration graduates in the School of Education will be held on Thursday, May 9, at 7 p.m. in The Sam and Marjorie Ragan Writing Center. The Hooding Ceremony for the Master of Science in Nursing graduates and the Pinning Ceremony for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates in the School of Nursing will be held on Friday, May 10, at 10 a.m. in Howard Chapel.
About the Commencement Speaker —
The third child of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his wife, Nomalizo Leah Tutu, Reverend Tutu witnessed firsthand the difficult and often daunting challenges her father faced as he opposed the South African apartheid regime. Her father’s valiant efforts were recognized by the world with his award of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. The challenges of growing up black and female in apartheid South Africa have been the foundation of Reverend Tutu’s life as an activist for human rights. She shares that those experiences taught her “that our whole human family loses when we accept situations of oppression, and how the teaching and preaching hate and division injure us all.”
While born in South Africa, Reverend Tutu has had the opportunity to live in a number of communities and countries. She was educated in Swaziland, the United States, and England, and she has divided her adult life between South Africa and the United States. She earned a Diploma in Anglican Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity degree at Vanderbilt Divinity School, a Master of Arts degree in International Development and Development Economics at the University of Kentucky (with minors in International Politics and Diplomatic Affairs), a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and French at Berea College, and a Diplome de Langue et Civilisation Francaises Degre Semestriel at the Universite de Paris, Sorbonne.
Reverend Tutu notes that growing up the “daughter of …” has offered many opportunities and challenges in her life. She shares that perhaps one of the greatest challenges she has struggled with is the call to ministry. From early in her life she would say, “I have my father’s nose, I do not want his job!” Yet, this call refused to be silenced. Even as she carried her passion for justice into other fields, the call to preach and serve as an ordained clergyperson continued to tug at her. Finally, in her 50s, she responded to the call and went to seminary.
Reverend Tutu’s professional experience ranges from being a development consultant in West Africa to being program coordinator for programs on Race and Gender and Gender-based Violence in Education at the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town. In addition, Reverend Tutu has taught at the University of Hartford, the University of Connecticut, and Brevard College in North Carolina. She served as Program Coordinator for the historic Race Relations Institute at Fisk University, and was a part of the Institute’s delegation to the World Conference Against Racism in Durban.
She started her public speaking as a college student at Berea College in Kentucky in the 1970s when she was invited to speak at churches, community groups, and colleges and universities about her experiences growing up in apartheid South Africa. Since that time, she has become a much sought after speaker to groups as varied as business associations, professional conferences, elected officials, and church and civic organizations.
In addition to her speaking and preaching, Reverend Tutu has established Nozizwe Consulting. Nozizwe means Mother of Many Lands, in her mother tongue Xhosa, and is the name she was given by her maternal grandmother. The guiding principle of Nozizwe Consulting is to bring different groups together to learn from and celebrate their differences and acknowledge their shared humanity. As part of this work, she has led Truth and Reconciliation Workshops for groups dealing with different types of conflict. She has also offered educational and partnership trips to South Africa for groups as varied as high schools, churches, hospices, K-12 teachers, and women’s associations. These trips emphasize the opportunities to share our stories and experiences.
Reverend Tutu is the recipient of four honorary doctorates from universities and colleges in the United States and Nigeria. She is an ordained clergy in the Episcopal Church. Reverend Tutu is the single mother of two daughters and a son.