Gazette News Report

WILBERFORCE — Central State University will award more than 260 degrees and one special honorary doctorate during 2016 commencement Saturday, May 7.

In addition to the approximately 265 degrees handed out, the university will honor the distinguished accomplishments of President Emeritus John W. Garland, Esq., by conferring upon him an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

Garland, CSU’s seventh president, served from 1997 to 2012. During his 15-year tenure, Garland positioned Central State for growth as an 1890 Land-Grant Institution. Under his leadership, academic programs were redesigned into four distinct colleges; eight new buildings were constructed; and funding for the construction of the new University Student Center was secured. A 1971 alumnus of Central State, Garland is currently president in residence at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

The 129th Commencement Ceremony begins 10 a.m. at the Dayton Convention Center. Six students will receive their master of education degree in addition to the undergraduate degrees being awarded. This year’s graduates, which range in age from 20 to 61 years old, come from 15 states plus The Bahamas. Tickets are required for commencement.

The keynote speaker will be Russ Mitchell, a veteran journalist who has worked as a television anchor for the CBS Evening News weekend editions and the CBS Early Show. Mitchell is presently managing editor of the evening news and lead anchor of the 6 and 11 p,m, newscasts at WKYC-TV3 in Cleveland.

Mitchell has decades of experience as a news reporter, anchor and commentator. He covered the war in Bosnia, went to the Democratic Republic of Congo and interviewed then-President Laurent Kabila, reported from Cuba, India, Indonesia and The Marshall Islands. Mitchell was on the anchor desk with Dan Rather Sept. 11, 2001 and reported from Ground Zero and other parts of Manhattan on the days and weeks that followed. He also anchored the live CBS special report coverage of the capture and death of Osama Bin Laden May 1, 2011.

Honored with multiple local and national Emmy Awards, Mitchell has received the National Association of Black Journalists Award, the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi Award for his coverage of the Elian Gonzales story, the New York Association of Black Journalists Award for Best Documentary, and the Press Club of St. Louis 18th Annual Media Person of the Year Award.

Commencement is one of two weekend events that celebrate the 2016 graduates. At 5 p.m. Friday, May 6, the university will hold its baccalaureate ceremony. The ecumenical service will feature the Rev. Dr. Victor M. Davis, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Columbus, who will give the address. The baccalaureate will be held at the Paul Robeson Cultural & Performing Arts Center on campus. That event is open to the public.

At Trinity Baptist Church, under the leadership of Pastor Davis, the church’s ministry is Christ-centered and community-focused. Trinity, through the church-sponsored development corporation (RDC) in partnership with three other churches and the Alpha Rho Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., has completed the building of The Whitney townhomes in the neighborhood where the church is located.

Davis earned a bachelor of arts and Master of Divinity, magna cum laude, from Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. He studied at Southeastern Theological Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, N,C. In 2006, he was conferred the Doctorate of Ministry Degree at the United Theological Seminary in Dayton.

Gazette news report compiled by Scott Halasz.