University of Montevallo awards degrees to 222 fall graduates

Kelly Triplett Benton receives her diploma, and congratulations, from Dr. John W. Stewart III, University of Montevallo president. (Contributed/Matthew Orton)

Kelly Triplett Benton receives her diploma from University of Montevallo President John Stewart. (Contributed/Matthew Orton)

By STEPHANIE BRUMFIELD / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The University of Montevallo awarded 222 degrees at its fall commencement ceremony Friday, Dec. 13, where human rights activist and politician Andrew Young was the speaker.

Young, a trusted aid and friend of Martin Luther King Jr., began his career as a pastor. Since the 1970s, Young has served in the U.S. House of Representatives for the state of Georgia, was the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was elected mayor of Atlanta, and has been given countless honors and awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

In his address, Young said everything good in his life has come from Alabama – his wife, his friendship with King, his grandchildren, and his ability to pay for the birth of his son, to which he credits the Hill-Burton Act, a piece of legislation sponsored by an Alabama senator. The act helped provide health services in poor areas of the country, Young said.

“The leadership that comes to this nation, I think for the next few decades, is going to have to come from the South,” Hill said to the hundreds of graduates and family members in attendance.

Speaking of the value of the graduates’ liberal arts degrees, Young said, “There is money. There is technology. There is an understanding and documentation of human need, the likes of which the planet has never known. The missing thing is the vision to get them all together.

“That’s the work of the liberal arts,” Young added. “That’s the work of poets and missionaries. That’s the work of schoolteachers. That’s the work of nurses and doctors. That’s the work of people who have a long-term vision of the values of humanity. That’s what comes from having a liberal arts degree from Montevallo.”

UM President John Stewart said the graduates ranged in age from 21 to 56 and included representatives of 14 states, three foreign countries, four veterans, 20 student athletes and 56 honor graduates with designations of cum laude or higher.