Wingate University graduates largest class ever

Contact: Kim Williams
Communications Writer

Wingate, N.C. – Wingate University graduated the largest class ever at the 118th commencement ceremony held on Saturday, May 17 on the Academic Quadrangle. A record 622 graduates, including 104 student athletes graduated. The class of 1964 celebrated its 50th anniversary by leading the class of 2014 in the procession.

Seven students earned a perfect 4.0 GPA. This year, the University awarded two new degrees: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master of Arts in Sport Management (MASM). Several awards were announced. Student Awards recipients:
Budd E. and Ethel K. Smith Cup – Cody Tyler Flowers (Biology, Bessemer City)
C.C. Burris Award – Meghan Louise Dorrell (Biology, Greensboro)
A.F. Hendricks Award – Cody Lee Starnes (Biology, Charlotte)
Fred H. Allen Award – Bradley Alton Chandler (Sport Management, Pinehurst)
Jerry and Alice Surratt Award – Hilary Megan Heath (History, Marshville)
H.K. Helms Award (All had a perfect 4.0 GPA)
Brandi Morgan Baldwin (Finance, Stallings)
Binyam Ateka Belachew (Biology, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia)
Bradley Alton Chandler (Sport Management, Pinehurst)
Hilary Megan Heath (History, Marshville)
Robert Markham Hibbs (Music Performance, Newport)
Jeremy Lynn Sikes (Accounting, Polkton)
Zachary Martin Slifer (Biology, Stanley)
Faculty Awards recipients:
Debra M. O’Neal Award for Excellence in Teaching – Joseph Ellis, Assistant Professor of Political Science
Charles and Hazel Corts Award for Excellence in Teaching – Christopher Dahm, Associate Professor of Chemistry
Graduate and Professional Program Faculty Member of the Year – Cynthia Compton, Assistant Professor of Graduate Education

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory was keynote speaker. “Failure is a necessary ingredient of success,” McCrory told the audience of more than 5,500, “but only if one of the lessons it teaches is the ability to bounce back.”

McCrory shared losing the 2008 N.C. governor’s race and the rejection he felt afterwards. He said he was encouraged by the words of retired professional boxer and friend George Foreman who went through a hardship of his own. Foreman gave McCrory a pair of boxing gloves and wrote the words: “With this hand I missed a lot, but I kept swinging.” McCrory told the graduates “never give up, keep swinging during the up times and the down times and understand that you’re going to go through some changes in your life.”

VIDEO AVAILABLE: McCrory’s speech and Commencement highlights available at

Wingate University
Wingate University, ranked as the 8th "best value" in the South by U.S. News & World Report, serves more than 3,000 students on three campuses in Wingate, Charlotte and Hendersonville, N.C. Founded in 1896, the University offers 35 undergraduate majors, 37 minors and career concentrations, numerous pre-professional programs, graduate degrees in business, accounting, education, physician assistant studies and sport administration, and doctorates in pharmacy, physical therapy and education. With a 14 to 1 student/teacher ratio, Wingate students gain the tools and support needed to excel in academics and apply that learning toward an extraordinary career and life.

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In addition to a robust intramural athletics program, Wingate student athletes compete in 22 NCAA Division II sports. The University has won the South Atlantic Conference Echols Athletic Excellence Award for the past eight years. For more information, go to