Presbyterian College opened its 136th session this past Tuesday with its traditional convocation. The ceremony, which marks the official opening of the College, was highlighted with the presentation of the Martha Anne Green Service to Church and College Award and the installation of Robert “Bob” Emmett Staton ’68 ’15 as President of the College.
The Martha Anne Green award, presented by the President and Dr. Jeri Perkins, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Clinton, was established by the First Presbyterian Church and PC to recognize the contributions of Martha Anne Green to the church and College communities.
Each year the church pastor and College President appoint a selection committee and charge it with identifying an individual from Clinton whose life of service on behalf of the church universal and the College embody the College motto, “Dum Vivimus Servimus,” while we live, we serve.
This year, the award was presented posthumously to Ruth Pate Tiller Coleman, a 1965 cum laude graduate of the College. The award was received by Coleman’s sons William “Bill” and John. It was presented on the basis of Coleman’s service as the Alumni Board president in 1998; her reception of the College’s Mary F. Lehman Service Award in 1999; her work as a church school teacher, a church elder, and as a deacon; and her volunteer efforts throughout Laurens County.
Following the Martha Anne Green Award the College acknowledged student honors and there were readings of the New and Old Testament. G. Patrick Phillips ’71, chair of the Board of Trustees presented Staton for instillation as President of Presbyterian College. Phillips presided as Staton took the oath of office, after which Staton addressed the College as a whole with his speech, “Seeking an Inspired Life.”
Staton’s address had particular emphasis for the freshman and senior classes, as both were at points of great change. Using parallels with his own life, including spending time on the beach with his wife, Phyllis, and calling his aunt to share his grades at the end of his first semester at PC, Staton challenged the students to be “inspired for life.”
“Be inspired by the sense of community grounded in the relationships built during your time here,” Staton said. “Be inspired by the excellence and honor that is experienced and expected of you and the service grounded in the values stated in PC’s motto, ‘while we live, we serve.’”
After pointing out that the students had a choice between doing the minimum needed to get by or to embrace all the opportunities and challenges presented, Staton requested that the students do more than settle. He requested that they set expectations and push themselves to excel in all of their endeavors.
As with his own life, Staton explained that he and his wife could have stayed on the beach, or he could have settled for being a “C” student, but instead he chose to be inspired. “We decided to act, and now our lives have been forever changed. Had we not acted, we would have missed one of the great opportunities of our life,” Staton said.
“Don’t let opportunities pass you by, act-go for it-make things happen in your life,” Staton continued.
The convocation concluded with new students and employees signing the College’s Honor Code. Through signing the Honor Code, new students and employees become members of the College family. Students are expected to balance their freedoms with responsibility and respect for the rules of the College, which have been established to preserve community, and to foster an environment that is conducive to the mission of the College.
Classes for the 2015-2016 academic year started Wednesday.