Elmira College Celebrates 161st Commencement

June 05 2016
Category: Events

Elmira College celebrated the graduation of 376 students during its 161st Commencement on Sunday, June 5th at the Murray Athletic Center, Pine Valley.    The exercises included the conferring of 330 undergraduate and 46 graduate degrees.

Following a welcome by Elmira College President Norman Smith and recognition of Emily Feldpausch, Class of 2016 Valedictorian, four individuals were conferred with the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters based upon their long-standing dedication and support to the College. 


George L. Howell, Chairman of F.M. Howell and Company, served on the Elmira College Board of Trustees for two decades, underwrote the George L. Howell Tutoring Center, the Howell Seminar Room, established the Howell Fund, and gifted to the College nearly 100 acres of land surrounding Quarry Farm, thereby ensuring the natural state of this important national treasure.  Howell’s daughter, Katherine Roehlke, accepted the degree in her father’s honor.

Elizabeth P. Rettie, Class of 1950, served on the Board of Trustees for nearly a decade before being named a Trustee Emerita in 2013. Rettie established the Joseph H. and Ellen A. Peterson scholarship for Elmira College undergraduates in memory of her parents and also made one of the College’s largest planned gifts for which the Cowles Hall Peterson Chapel is named in her honor.

Dr. Edward J. Grandt, Elmira’s senior statesman of obstetrics and gynecology, served on the Board of Trustees for over a decade and was a key force in establishing the College’s nursing program.  Dr. Grandt established the endowed Josef Stein Award, the endowed Dr. Kathleen Sward Nursing Excellence Prize, supported the Irene Stein Grandt Office, and recently donated his family home on Euclid Street to the College.

Robert G. Morris, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, has served on the Board for 20 years.  Morris has provided steadfast governance as Chairman for the past 12 years, during which time he led the Board’s efforts to revitalize the College’s founding building, Cowles Hall. Morris’s support and dedication to the College are evidenced through the classroom in Meier Hall, named in memory of his mother and Elmira College alumna Ruth Tanner Morris, Class of 1935, and the Carol and Robert Morris Career Services Center. Morris and his wife, Carol, stand in the forefront of Elmira College’s most generous benefactors. 

Following the conferring of the honorary degrees, Morris delivered the response and Commencement address.

During ceremonies prior to Commencement, members of the graduating class were recognized with multiple honors and prizes, including induction into Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest national honors organization, and officer commissioning with the United States military.  The Class of 2016 also included more than 125 honor graduates receiving summa cum laude, magna cum laude, and cum laude honors.