Tyler Wade, Kevin McCarthy, and Peter Gunderman received the top honors for seniors at Saturday’s Deans’ Breakfast, and Dean of Students Mike Raters ’85 praised the entire Class of 2012 for embodying the College’s mission and adding new and deeper meaning to the motto, “Wabash Always Fights.”
“I want you to know how grateful I am to this great Class of 2012,” said Dean Raters ’85, who became Dean of Students in 2008—the year of the nationwide financial downturn, the death of a student, and the death of one of the College’s most beloved professors. “You are my ‘first class’ of students to lead as Dean through all four years of your Wabash experience, and you have persevered through a most challenging time in our College’s history; yet you have also led our alma mater to some of her greatest improvements and successes. You accepted challenges in all walks of Wabash student life and achieved the highest levels of excellence in each. You have demonstrated as much as any class to commence from the College that, indeed, Wabash Always Fights. And on November 26, 2011 [the greatest comeback in the history of Wabash sports], you added a corollary to our motto; that is, that “Always means Always.”
Dean Raters then presented Tyler Wade and Kevin McCarthy with the Frank H. Sparks Award for All-Around Student Achievement, given to a senior who has done the most "to promote the true spirit and purpose of Wabash College."
Dean of the College Gary Phillips presented Peter Gunderman with the John Maurice Butler Prize for Scholarship and Character. The Butler Prize is awarded to the senior "having the best standing in scholarship and character."
In what could become a new Commencement tradition, a member of this year’s 50th reunion class offered his perspective, half a century after his own graduation, on what it means to be a gentleman in the world.
Terry Fewell ’62 recalled arriving at Wabash his freshman year to discover the College has no rules but one: “A Wabash man conducts himself as a gentleman at all times, whether on or off campus.”
“The Gentleman’s Rule doesn’t define itself,” Fewell said. “What it does imply is a lifetime code of conduct. It requires you to take 100 percent responsibility for your own decisions and your own actions. It is a terrible and powerful requirement.
“As you go out into the world, consider this: No one in this place intends for you to deposit the Gentleman’s Rule on the Chapel steps as you depart. Let its precept guide you wherever you go. You will make a difference in this world; let that difference be positive.”
Dean of the College Gary Phillips urged seniors to continue to listen for “the sound that called you into the College four years ago and now beckons you away as Wabash gentlemen, not just to a career of meaningful work but also to a vocation of highest responsibility, to be Wabash gentlemen.
“You may have started off at Wabash wanting a job in medicine, law, teaching, or business, and you may indeed end up in one or another of these professions. The College will have done its best to equip you for job and vocation, however, if it has kept you from narrowing your vision and limiting your hearing too soon.
“Liberal learning stretches time and everyone’s patience by insisting that you take on the responsibility and time to learn how to read a text carefully, write an essay convincingly, voice an argument persuasively, and compute data effectively. The medium of the liberal arts is time, and there is never enough of it to be sure, to be engaged with a community that makes the familiar strange and helps you lose the tin ear that deafens you to the call to step forward to meet the needs of one another, the nation, and the world, to have a job and live a vocation.”