Baldwin Wallace University President Bob Helmer smiles as grad holds diploma

In a spring ceremony steeped in more than a century of tradition, BW honors the achievement of 665 graduates.

Class of 2017 Celebrates 167th Commencement

May 7, 2017

Baldwin Wallace University’s 167th Commencement ceremonies, steeped in triumph and tradition, honored the achievement of 665 graduates on Saturday, May 6. 

Dee Bagwell Haslam, a successful businesswoman, television producer and philanthropist, gave the commencement address before thousands of family and friends gathered in Ursprung Gymnasium.  

Finding 'unimaginable rewards' in service

Dee Bagwell Haslam delivers the Baldwin Wallace University spring commencement addressHaslam, co-owner of the Cleveland Browns (with her husband Jimmy) and CEO of RIVR Media, told graduates they would "reap unimaginable rewards" by creating opportunities for service. "As you embark on your new path, I encourage you to think about how you can give back."

She also encouraged grads to find causes that resonate personally. "If you're passionate about something, you will make an impact in a meaningful way," she said.

Following her address, BW President Robert C. Helmer presented Haslam with the honorary degree of Doctor of Public Service recognizing her "contributions to the betterment of [the Northeast Ohio] community" through her leadership and support for a variety of organizations and programs focused on education, wellness and the environment.

A first and a last

The ceremony also featured the first cohort of 15 students to graduate from BW’s speech-language pathology graduate program. An impressive group, 100 percent of the Master of Science degree-earners have passed the Praxis certification exam.

This day also marked the final time that theatre professor, Dr. Jack Winget, would lead the commencement procession before his retirement after 49 years at BW. The honor of carrying the ceremonial mace at the head of all academic processions is given to the professor with the longest tenure. Next year, that duty will pass to Dr. Robert Mayerovitch, professor of piano.

Top Academic Achievers

The scene at Baldwin Wallace University spring 2017 commencement The Milton T. Baldwin Prize, an award established in 1859, to recognize the graduate with the highest academic achievement at BW went to Remy Alexandra Yovanno, who maintained a perfect 4.0 while double majoring in chemistry and physics, adding a math minor and completing the BW Honors Program. 

The Class of 2017 also included nearly 180 accomplished students who graduated with honors: 37 earning summa cum laude recognition with a cumulative grade point average of 3.90 or higher; 60 graduated magna cum laude with a 3.75+ GPA and while another 82 earned cum laude honors, with a 3.60+ GPA.

Dayton C. Miller Honor Society members and Honors Program graduates were also among those applauded for exemplary academic performance.

Super Seniors Applauded for All-Around Excellence

Ten graduates were recognized as 2017 Outstanding Seniors for overall excellence and contributions to campus life including academics, leadership, service and involvement on and off campus. 

The May 2017 graduating seniors acknowledged for excellence in all areas of their University endeavors were: Aziz Ahmad, Kara Carpenter, Nathan Cole, Jordan Gase, Vanessa Adu Gyamfi, Cassidy Lowden, Nikita Martin, Morgan Rudge, Joseph Simonis and Sydney Warren.

Traditions: Ring of Ribbons, Baccalaureate, White Rose

As part of the main ceremony, the class of 2017 also added class colors to the Ring of Ribbons, a circular collection of ribbons representing the colors of each class since 1915.

Commencement Day began with a traditional Baccalaureate service at the Kulas Musical Arts Building. Rev. Charles "CJ" Harkness, who serves at BW’s chief diversity officer, spoke on "The Warmth of Other Suns," while graduating seniors and other faculty contributed readings, prayers and music to the non-denominational service.

Later in the morning, the 100-plus-year-old White Rose Ceremony recognized select women in honor of Philura Gould Baldwin, granddaughter of BW’s founding father. She helped establish the BW library and the University’s brown and gold colors.

At midday, the President’s Reception welcomed all graduating seniors and their families to celebrate with a spread of heavy appetizers and desserts at the Strosacker Union, serenaded by live harp music.

Replay Ceremony Online; View Photos

BW provided a live webcast of the commencement exercises, which is available for replay viewing online at

Photo galleries of the day's events are posted on the Baldwin Wallace University Facebook page as batches are processed. Please check for updates.

Smiling Baldwin Wallace University May graduate with diploma

  • Graduates seated for Baldwin Wallace University's spring commencement
  • Baldwin Wallace University spring 2017 commencement
  • BW commencement dignitaries Chuck Rotuno, Dee Bagwell Haslam, Jimmy Haslam, President Bob Helmer
  • New graduates raise fist in celebration at Baldwin Wallace graduation
  • Baldwin Wallace University grads admire diplomas at spring 2017 commencement
  • Baldwin Wallace University President Bob Helmer smiles as grad holds diploma