Welcome students, faculty, board of trustees and honored guests to Kepler College’s third commencement ceremonies.Tonight we honor the hard work and dedication of our students. We have three students here on stage tonight and one who is not with us, Johnathan Edwards, who only just completed the last requirements for his AA degree this past week.
Kepler College continues to change and grow into a strong academic institution. Each year since our opening in 2000, we have seen additions or improvements in our academic programs so that we can join the family of accredited colleges. Each year for our first four years, we had a new year added to our BA program. In 2005 we saw the start of our AA program and last year saw the start of our MA program, and this year we complete that program.
As things grow and develop, they change. Over the years we experienced the joy of welcoming new faculty members and the sadness of seeing others leave. This year two long-time faculty members resigned, Demetra George and Dennis Harness. Along with Nick Campion, Rob Hand, and Lee Lehman, Demetra taught Kepler’s very first class. She helped with the development of our 100 level courses, our Hellenistic astrology module and participated in planning Kepler’s mythology track. Dennis Harness joined Kepler in its second year. Until a leave of absence, he was Kepler’s Dean of Faculty and Community Outreach. Dennis made a significant contribution to the development of our Vedic program. Both Dennis and Demetra were warm and caring instructors for their students. Kepler appreciates their contributions over the years and wishes them success in their new endeavors.
Joining us this year is Karen McCauley, a well respected member of the astrological community. She brings with her many years of experience both as a teacher and as a psychological counselor. Next term will see three new faces: Nicholai Bachman, who has had extensive study in Ayurvedic, Vedic and Sanskrit, will be teaching our Sanskrit class. Gary Gomes, who was one of the first Westerners to take up the study of Hindu astrology, will be teaching Vedic astrology. And Joseph Crane will be offering courses in Hellenistic Astrology and mythology.
This past summer also saw a change in presidency. Carol Tebbs stepped down so that she could devote her time to helping Kepler in its accreditation efforts and to have more time to devote to her passion for teaching. It has been an honor for me to return to the presidency because as an educator, I recognize Kepler College’s importance both to the pantheon of higher education and to the astrology community. Kepler College is unique. There is no other college like it. Kepler College is the only college in the Americas and Europe whose primary mission to give its students a solid liberal arts education that seriously examines astrology from all directions, both historically and culturally.
When I think about the presidency of this unique institution, I feel the awesome responsibility that I share with our Board of Trustees to secure and ensure the future of this special place so that it can continue to serve its students for many, many years to come. One of the first responsibilities of a president is to help the College articulate and reach its values and mission. And Kepler College’s mission is not only to provide a sound liberal intellectual basis for students to gain knowledge, to think critically, to communicate effectively, to appreciate many cultures, and to achieve personal growth. It is to be among the very finest, private liberal arts colleges in the nation. And we will do this while holding true to our dream of returning astrology to the academic conversation. Kepler College is lucky to have a dedicated, highly educated and professional faculty that continues to provide outstanding academic preparation for our students.
We also have a dedicated and hard-working staff, including our registrar Jolee Woroness, and our office administrator, Roland Matthews, who is receiving his BA degree tonight. They have assisted Kepler to provide increasing levels of service delivery, efficiency and effectiveness in all aspects of our operations.
Kepler College is also lucky in the generosity of its donors, without whom we would not be here.
I would like to acknowledge the astrological organizations, AFAN, OPA, NCGR, the Oregon astrological society, who have given scholarship money for our students. I would also like to acknowledge Karen McCauley who, this week, gave a scholarship donation.
Tonight I would also like to give a very special thank you to our Purple Angel, Mark Douglas, who has not only provided scholarships for the past four years, but who has been one of Kepler Colleges most generous donors. Mark is not only a member of the Founder’s Circle, but our first donor to enter the Cosmos Society, having donated over one million dollars in property and money. Thank you Mark, for all the time you spent helping guide the College as a member of the Board of Trustees, and for believing so strongly in our mission and our vision.
The first member of the Milestone Society is the Marion & Nico March Family Foundation. Their donation of over $100,000 in 2004 helped Kepler College with the operating costs it needed to do the work necessary to develop our AA and MA programs.
The newest member of the President’s Circle and First Magnitude Star Society (between $25K and $50K) is Chris Uihlein. Last year his donation ensured that we could make the first payments necessary to give our students access to JSTOR and EEBO, which are both extensive academic databases that provide our students resources that you cannot get from any public library.
This seventh year marks a new transition as we continue to work toward accreditation. There are two major milestones for a new college. One is to obtain State authorization to open its doors. The second, which is a long and detailed process, is accreditation. Our earlier application for accreditation gave us valuable information for what we needed to do. This year, we intend to apply again. And this past week, we received our first donation to this effort Lynn Hawley-Bootes. Her donation gives us the resources to take the first steps into Kepler’s next transition into the world of accredited colleges. Thank you Lynn.