Commencement exercises to spotlight graduates

Commencement exercises to spotlight graduates

May 13, 2015

Ricky Wolfe
Ricky Wolfe
Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess
Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess
Dr. George Baker Jr.
Dr. George Baker Jr.
Patrick Reynolds
Patrick Reynolds

LaGrange College will award more than 240 diplomas during commencement exercises at 8:30 a.m. Saturday on the Residential Quad.

Ricky Wolfe , community leader and humanitarian, and retired Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess , former national intelligence officer, will deliver brief remarks during the college’s 184th graduation ceremonies.

Wolfe, a native of LaGrange, earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial management at Georgia Institute of Technology, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School. After retiring from his business career, he helped form DASH for LaGrange, a housing initiative that provides dependable, affordable, sustainable housing.

For eight years, he was chairman of Troup County Commission, and has served LaGrange College on its Leadership Council and Board of Trustees.

Burgess is a native of Jacksonville, N.C., and graduated from Opelika (Ala.) High School in 1970. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Auburn University in 1974, a master’s in education from the University of Southern California in 1980 and a Master of Military Arts and Science degree from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in 1986.

Burgess held many key regional and national staff and command positions during his 38-year military career. His final assignment was as Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the nation's highest-ranking military intelligence officer.

Burgess is senior counsel for national security programs, cyber programs and military affairs at Auburn University.

Commencement events actually began Thursday night with the annual nurse pinning ceremony at First United Methodist Church. Today, events will begin with graduation rehearsal at 9:30 a.m. on the Residential Quadrangle.

That will be followed by the Legacy Reception at 2:30 p.m. in the Bailey Room in Smith Hall, followed by the Baccalaureate Service at 5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church. Dr. Brent A. Strawn, professor of Old Testament at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, is this year’s baccalaureate speaker.

Registrar Cindy Saines said approximately 241 degrees are scheduled to be awarded Saturday. They include 168 bachelor’s degrees, including 45 in nursing. Graduate degrees include 31 Education Specialist, 34 Master of Education and eight Master of Arts in Teaching.

The Class of 2015 includes 36 legatees, students who have a parent, sibling, grandparent, child or spouse who is an alumnus of LaGrange College.

Saturday morning’s program also will include remarks by President Dan McAlexander; Cara Thornton, coordinator of the Senior Challenge; Patrick Reynolds, winner of the Waights G. Henry Jr. Leadership Award; and Dr. George Baker Jr., the Distinguished Service Alumni Award winner.

Dr. Baker is a native of LaGrange. He graduated from LaGrange High School in 1970, earned a chemistry degree from LaGrange College in 1974 and a dentistry degree from the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry in 1977.

He was a dentist at LaGrange Family Dental Center for 36 years before moving to Kids Zone Dentistry in LaGrange in 2013. 

Dr. Baker is a member of the Georgia Dental Society, National Dental Association and American Dental Association.

His service to LaGrange College includes two terms on the Board of Trustees, where he is presently serving a third term. He was recognized as an outstanding alumnus in 1994, and his daughter Joy Baker is a legacy graduate of LaGrange College.

His community work includes serving on the board of directors at Community Bank & Trust, as well as holding memberships in Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, 100 Black Men of West Georgia, Sons of LaGrange Lodge No. 537 Free and Accepted Masons and Warren Temple United Methodist Church.

Dr. Baker is married to Ann J. Baker, and they have three children – LeThenia Joy Baker, Demetrice Artez Shipman Sr. and Tracy Lynette Maddox. They also have three grandchildren and a great-grandchild.

The Waights G. Henry Jr. Leadership Award, the most prestigious honor given to a student by LaGrange College, is based on scholarship, service and leadership.  This year’s winner is Patrick Reynolds, an early childhood education major from Toomsboro, Ga.

He is an Orientation Team mentor and a keynote speaker at new student and family orientations. He served on several college search committees, and was the only student selected to help create Leaders Inspired for Tomorrow, a selective leadership development program for incoming students.

Patrick is a senior resident advisor supervising six RAs in a first-year male dorm, and was a teaching assistant for an ethics class, leading lectures on diversity and hazing. A member of the Omicron Nu Leadership Society, he served as a mentor and resident advisor for the college’s inaugural Foundations Program, a summer bridge program for students admitted on a conditional basis.

He is the son of Lee and Patricia Reynolds.

Honorary degrees will be awarded to Wolfe and Burgess.

Graduates should be lined up for the procession on the Forrest Avenue sidewalk in front of Hawkins Hall at 7:45 a.m. The ceremonies also will be broadcast live in the Dickson Assembly Room.

For more information, including a rain plan in case of inclement weather, visit

Following the ceremony, light refreshments will be served at the sound end of the Quad.

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