Lee conferred 178 degrees on Saturday, July 31, during its summer commencement ceremony. Attendees heard speaker Phil Cook challenge the graduates in the traditional ceremony in the Conn Center.
"Today is about you," Cook told the graduates in his address. "The robes, the music, the honors, and the applause are meant for you. But what about the rest of your life? When you leave today, the rest of your life shouldn't be about you, it should be about serving God and serving others."
Cook also urged graduates to consider the words his father told him, that "leaders eat last." Cook warned that society advocates for always coming in first, but that it is important for a leader to put others first.
Cook has been a part of the Lee University family for more than 30 years. He and his wife Tonya, both Lee alums, began their service at Lee as resident directors. He served at the university from 1993–2021, and his tenure in the Office of Admissions began in 1997. Most recently, Cook served as the vice president for enrollment, where he was responsible for admissions, financial aid, graduate enrollment, international students, Kingdom Players, and veterans affairs.
Cook recently moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he works as executive director and CEO of the North American Coalition of Christian Admissions Professionals (NACCAP), an organization that supports and coordinates the student enrollment efforts of 300 faith-based institutions across the country. He earned a Master of Divinity at the Church of God School of Theology and his Bachelor of Science in business from Lee. He is currently pursuing a doctorate in higher education administration at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Of the 178 degrees conferred on Saturday, 117 were bachelor's degrees and 61 were graduate degrees. The summer event is one of three graduation weekends at Lee each year. Lee also holds commencements in May and December. Saturday's ceremony was preceded by the Commissioning Service on Friday night, which featured five student speakers sharing their experiences at Lee. The student speakers were Micah Davis, Christopher Gill, Lauren Goss, Corrine Perez, and Hope Sheppard.
The commencement and commissioning ceremonies can be viewed at https://livestream.com/leeu.
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