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Ohio Wesleyan Celebrates 162nd Commencement

May 10, 2006


DELAWARE, Ohio — "Dream boldly and have faith in something greater than yourselves," said Byron Pitts, CBS National News Correspondent and this year's Commencement speaker at Ohio Wesleyan University on Sunday, May 14.Family and friends of the 401 graduates attended OWU's 162nd Commencement, held on campus in the scenic Phillips Glen, as a light rain fell. But spirits of the graduates and well wishers were not at all dampened by the weather as the Emmy award-winning Pitts, a 1982 Ohio Wesleyan graduate, shared stories of his experiences as an OWU student, and how that education has helped to shape his life.

"As a CBS News correspondent, I have traveled the world, covering the disastrous tsunami devastation, war in Iraq, and most horribly, Ground Zero, following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center," said Pitts. "None of that would have been possible had it not been for the four years I spent at Ohio Wesleyan."
Covering the biggest breaking stories and now also reporting on a new beat focusing on faith, family and the culture, Pitts has been with CBS News for the past 22 years, working as a news correspondent based in Miami and Atlanta bureaus before moving to New York in 2001. Besides his coverage of the tsunami in Indonesia, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the September 11 tragedy, Pitts was the network's primary correspondent from New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina hit, from Saddam Hussein's palace after the fall of the Saddam statue, and during the refugee crisis in Kuwait, to name a few locales. He has received many accolades for his work including Emmy awards for coverage of the 1999 Chicago train wreck and his reporting from Ground Zero. Crediting the importance of his OWU professors Ulle Lewes and Verne Edwards with showing him the discipline needed to be a journalist and the importance of passion in one's work, Pitts remembered his mother Clarice Pitts, for instilling in him the value of education.  
"I believe strongly in my Ohio Wesleyan liberal arts education," he said. "It has prepared me to compete anywhere with anyone."
Also part of OWU's Commencement program was the presentation of the University's two highest teaching awards. The Bishop Herbert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award was presented to Professor of Zoology Jed Burtt. Receiving the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for the Encouragement of Teachers, was Assistant Professor of English, Karen Poremski. Adam Poe medals were awarded to those professors who retired this year: Professor of English and Humanities-Classics, Jim Biehl (36 years); Professor of Accounting, Cliff Cook (20 years); Professor of Religion, Morgan Phillips (46 years); and Professor of Education, Connie Zitlow (17 years).
Finally, the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters was conferred upon Byron Pitts '82, just prior to the delivery of his Commencement address.
Special academic honors were recognized during the program as indicated below:

SCL (Summa Cum Laude)- with highest honor   22
MCL (Magna Cum Laude)- with high honor   38
CL (Cum Laude)- with honor   60
PBK (Phi Beta Kappa)   42
Slocum Prize   6
Meek Leadership Awards   6
Grad. With University Honors   20