Saying Baker’s goodbyes
Baker University President Dan Lambert shared a special friend of his in his final speech to the undergraduates in the commencement ceremony Sunday afternoon at the Collins Center.
Lambert passed around his stuffed animal of Babar the Elephant. Babar has been with Lambert every one of his 19 years as president.
"I thought it was really cute," graduate Allison Scahill said of Babar. "I know it's special to Dr. Lambert. I think it was his way of trying to lighten the mood, because I know it was sad for him to say goodbye. I even saw people taking pictures with Babar while he was being passed around."
Lambert began his final speech to the graduates speaking about his time as president of the university.
"This grand adventure here began 19 years and three months ago," Lambert said. "I am proud to leave here as the class of King Arthur's Court."
Lambert spoke to the graduates about teachers and how important they are in a person's life.
"Good teachers expect the best because they know that the best hope for humankind is always the next generation," Lambert said.
Lambert continued to talk about the greatness of teachers. In his first graduation speech at Baker, almost two decades ago, he spoke about Baker as a teaching university.
Near the end of his speech, Lambert addressed the graduates about their futures and what they will remember when they leave Baker.
"What lasts is what is carried in the human heart from one generation to the next," Lambert said.
Scahill said Lambert will be greatly missed at Baker.
"He will be missed tremendously," Scahill said. "He has such an impact on the students. Every time he sees somebody, he always greets them. He knows most of the students' names, which is impressive. He will be greatly missed."
Lambert addressed 158 graduates and a packed gymnasium. The commencement was not only emotional for Lambert, but also for Joy Morgan, of Emporia.
Morgan, mother of senior Jeff Morgan, accepted a posthumous degree for her son and received a standing ovation. Jeff Morgan died April 13 when he was struck by a train in Edgerton.
The commencement was also filled with some lighter moments. One of those was when senior class president Anna Byler read from the Dr. Seuss book "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" during her speech.
There were several university degrees given out Sunday. One of those went to Myron McCoy, president of the St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.
Lambert also received the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. He was also named President Emeritus.
Baker sociology professor Ryan Beasley received the Jennie Howell Kopke and Verda R. Kopke Award for Distinguished Teaching.
Scahill enjoyed the commencement ceremony.
"I thought it was really nice," Scahill said. "It was nice for Dr. Lambert to say goodbye to the graduates and for the seniors to say goodbye to him."
Lambert's final message to the graduates was simple.
"Let's say so long to each other," Lambert said. "Your memories of this place will never fade. Graduates of 2006, goodbye and God's speed."