Mars Hill University Confers Degrees on 159 Spring Graduates

Student speaker Allie Jones of Leicester, North Carolina.

“Today is not the end; just the end of classes for a while.” With those words, keynote speaker Doug Buchanan encouraged the Mars Hill University class of 2023 to keep alive their love of learning in order to better prepare them for a productive future of work and service. In total, the university conferred degrees on 159 graduates during its spring commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 6, 2023.

Seventeen graduates received master’s degrees, in criminal justice or management. Undergraduate degrees presented were the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Bachelor of Music, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Bachelor of Social Work. The bachelor’s degrees were spread across many of the university’s 35 majors and included the first graduate to earn one of the newest majors: interdisciplinary studies.

The parents of J’son Pitts receive a diploma in memoriam from Pres. Tony Floyd.

President Tony Floyd made a special presentation to the family of J’son Pitts, who died in a car crash in 2021 during his sophomore year and who would have been part of the class of 2023.

The nine Bachelor of Science in Nursing Students also were honored on Friday during a pinning and lamp-lighting ceremony to mark their passage from the student role to the medical practice role.

Piper Elizabeth Alexander, a social work major from Andrews, North Carolina, gave the invocation to begin the ceremony. Margaret Marie Crisp, a psychology major from Weaverville, North Carolina, was the student speaker representing the Adult and Graduate Studies students. Nursing major Allie Grace Jones, from Leicester, North Carolina, was the student speaker representing the traditional undergraduate students.

Special music was performed by a sextet of graduates receiving their Bachelor of Music degrees: Christian Andrew Kraemer of Hendersonville, North Carolina; Julia V. Pearson of Hollister, California; Tyler Raymond Reese of Cornelius, North Carolina; Hannah Rose Shoaf of Salisbury, North Carolina; Abigail Elizabeth Wilson of Candler, North Carolina; and Isaac Heath Woodlee of Fairview, North Carolina.

Commencement speaker Doug Buchanan, class of 1988 and chair of the Mars Hill University Board of Trustees.

Keynote speaker Doug Buchanan is chair of the university’s board of trustees. He is a graduate of the Mars Hill class of 1988 and the first graduate of the university’s Continuing Education Program (a forerunner of the current Adult and Graduate Studies)—as well as first enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians—to serve as trustee chair. He is a retired vice president of Schneider Electric. In his words to the graduates, he focused on the positive benefits of higher education and cautioned them not to listen to naysayers who downplay the educational and economic value of a college degree. “Today is actually the next step in a lifetime of learning. If you’re receiving your bachelor’s [degree] today, go for your master’s. If you’re receiving your master’s today, go for your doctorate. You will not regret it.”

Watch the video of commencement