Opening Convocation Welcomes Students

As it does every fall during the first week of classes, Central Methodist University recently held Opening Convocation – a welcome ceremony that heralds the beginning of the academic year.

The event welcomes all students to CMU, especially new freshmen who are just embarking on their college adventure. Additionally, Convocation honors several students and a professor who have exhibited outstanding work from last year. 

Alex AutryThis year, five students were recognized – Alex Autry, Audrey Brandon, Hannah Criswell, Janie Leathers, and Katelyn Watts.

The Kim Everett Outstanding Freshman Award went to Autry, from Norborne. It goes to a male student who demonstrates a genuine concern for CMU, diverse involvement on campus, leadership, active concern for fellow students, and academic scholarship. Autry is a sophomore and is majoring in education and music education. The Kim Everett Award was established in memory of a Central student who served as president of his freshman class, but who died in a tragic accident at the beginning of his sophomore year.

Audrey BrandonBrandon was honored with the E.E. Rich Award. It is given to the female student judged the most outstanding in scholarship and leadership. Brandon is from Moberly. She is a junior majoring in mathematics.

The Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK) Outstanding Freshman Leadership Award was given to Criswell. It is presented to an outstanding student who demonstrates campus leadership. Recipients are nominated by the faculty and selected by the members of ODK. Criswell is from Kennett, and is a sophomore majoring in biology.

Leathers, a Cairo native, was awarded the Demaree Prize. This honor is given to the freshman student with the Hannah Criswellhighest scholastic average from the prior year. Leathers is a junior majoring in chemistry.

Watts, from Louisiana, was awarded the Tau Kappa Epsilon Outstanding Freshman Award. The award is presented to a female student in good academic standing who exemplifies dedication, involvement, and commitment to the mission and goals of CMU. Watts is a sophomore majoring in education and elementary education.

In addition to the student awards, one special honor is bestowed on a faculty member during Convocation. The Carolyn and Tad Perry Fellow Award was established in 2012 by the current chair of the CMU Board of Trustees, Dr. Tad Perry, and his Janie Leatherswife, Carolyn. It honors a faculty member who has gone the extra mile for Central students and has shown a commitment to student experiences, growth, and achievement.

Joy FlandersThis faculty award was presented to Joy Flanders, associate professor and student success coordinator at CMU’s Center for Learning and Teaching. Flanders is actively involved in numerous aspect of campus life, and is well-known among faculty, staff, and Central students.

The Reverend Kayla Kelly, campus minister for Central, led the invocation and at the end of Katelyn WattsConvocation, gave the benediction. Cayla Carr, a senior music major, led in singing “An Alma Mater for Central Methodist University.” 

Speakers for the event included President Roger Drake; Provost Rita Gulstad; Professor Paul Porneluzi, recipient of the 2017-18 Exemplary Teacher Award; and Lauren Mann, president of the CMU Student Government Association.

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