During Wells College’s 154th Commencement ceremony today (May 21, 2022), President Jonathan Gibralter conferred undergraduate degrees upon 59 graduating students. In addition, a longtime professor who is retiring this year was granted the honorary title of professor emerit, and several students were honored with academic and leadership awards (see list below).
Following that, the president paid tribute to two College leaders who are departing Wells this June: Charles Kenyon, dean of students, and Cindy J. Speaker, provost and dean of the College. During his tribute, he presented Dr. Speaker with a framed copy of a resolution passed in her honor by the Wells College Board of Trustees, which also recognized her as Provost and Dean of the College Emerita. “Ever since the day she arrived at Wells in 2006, Dr. Speaker has been a passionate advocate for our students and our faculty, a defender of the liberal arts, and deeply committed to the academy,” President Gibralter said.
The day’s events began at 10 a.m. in front of Macmillan Hall, with the traditional processional of students, faculty, trustees, and featured guests through the building’s front doors. After the Rev. Barbara Blom ’82 shared a spirited invocation, Marie Chapman Carroll ’75, chair of the College’s Board of Trustees, congratulated the seniors on their extraordinary achievement: “The pandemic changed the course of your college years, but you were flexible. You did not merely adapt to the changing environment, you met the challenges head on and that in itself is a capstone,” Carroll said.
In his remarks, President Gibralter praised the graduates for their perseverance during a very difficult two years. “As you head out into the world, there are so many opportunities that your Wells education has prepared you for, as you continue to think critically, reason wisely and act humanely,” said President Gibralter, noting that climate change, workforce disruptions and political upheaval are just some of the challenges their generation will face.
Student Commencement speaker Anthony Westmiller ’22 — who graduated magna cum laude with distinction in his major (Biological Sciences: Health Sciences) — encouraged his classmates to take control of their destinies: “I like to say that our future is predestined, but that doesn’t mean we can’t control our own reality. Wells has allowed me to realize the importance of this adaptation and morphed my character into what you see standing before you,” Westmiller said. “I am a first-generation student, I am a transfer student, I am a CSTEP scholar, I am an Organic Chemistry TA, and through no fault of my own, I am a Sagittarius. I came into Wells closed-minded and wanting to become a physician, but now I am leaving Wells to pursue a P.A. degree with a focus on holistic medicine,” he added.
In her keynote address, Deb Callahan ’85 said that, although she was not the most disciplined of students, she still made the most of her time at Wells by cultivating friendships that have lasted a lifetime. She also urged graduates to “endeavor to find work that you love — not what you think you should love. We lose time when we let others spend it for us, so find work that is worthy of your time and energy and aligned with your values, and not someone else’s . . . never stop learning, and never stop giving the absolute best of yourself to what you love doing. [See full bio below.]
Following the keynote address, President Gibralter presented several academic and leadership awards to deserving students. He also granted emerit status to Vic Muñoz, who this month concluded a 28-year career as professor of psychology and gender studies at Wells.
Upon completion of the ceremony, graduates were invited to move the tassels on their caps from right to left, signifying the final step in their Wells College journey.
Frances Tarlton Farenthold Leadership Award: Chelsey Jewett ’22
Presidential Leadership Award: Christian Hahn ’22
Gertrude H. Freiert Prize in Fine Arts: Avery Avalos ’22
Koch Prize for Best Senior Research Paper: Alexis Huff ’22
Class of 2022: Facts and Figures
59 — number of graduating students
20 — number of graduates who earned distinction in their major field(s) of study
28 — number of graduates earning Latin honors (8 with summa cum laude honors, 7 with magna cum laude, and 13 with cum laude)
7 — number of Phi Beta Kappa inductees
zero —number of raindrops felt throughout the beautiful (but warm) day!
About the Keynote Speaker
Deb Callahan ’85 is CEO of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) — a public service organization providing laboratory-tested, objective energy performance ratings for windows, doors, and skylights — Deb’s goals are to increase outreach, improve programs, and build greater awareness of NFRC’s contributions to a greener planet through energy-efficient products.
She also has been a dedicated Wells College alumna volunteer, serving as a guest speaker at numerous events, supporting the College’s Center for Sustainability and the Environment, and acting as Member-at-Large and a strategic liaison for the College’s Association of Alumnae and Alumni.
Deb graduated from Wells College in 1985 with a degree in American studies, and later earned a master’s in history from George Mason University. is a specialist in conflict resolution, change management, and board governance. She holds professional certifications including Certified Association Executive (CAE), Certified Professional Mediator (CNPM), certified board educator, and human resource management from nationally recognized organizations and institutions.