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Azuza Pacific dean addresses
1996 Ambassador University graduates

By Linda Moll Smith

BIG SANDY, Texas--Ambassador University awarded 172 bachelor's degrees and 105 associate's degrees to students during its 46th commencement exercises, which took place here May 20.

Presiding over the ceremonies was Russell K. Duke, newly inaugurated as the sixth president of the university, who congratulated the graduates for "making it through a difficult but rewarding year."

Lester C. Blank Jr., founding dean of the Haggard School of Theology at Azuza (Calif.) Pacific University, who was introduced by AU board of regents chairman Joseph Tkach Jr. as a "beloved brother in Christ," delivered the commencement address. He admonished the 1996 graduating class to "take the high road and dare to be passionate, committed change agents."

Referring to Mark 8:34-39 as the foundation of his message, Dr. Blank urged his audience to make use of "four stones"--integrity of relationships, modeling Christian character, building priorities on service and resolving not to shame Jesus Christ--to build the high road upon which they will "travel as Christian examples."

"The future is bright," Dr. Blank said. "Dare to dream new dreams like Walt Disney did. When he came up with the idea [for Disney World], his investors said it couldn't be done. Yet Disney persisted, saying, `If you can dream it, you can do it.' Or, as the Bible puts it, `Where there is no vision, the people perish."

Brad Marshall of Brisbane, Australia, Ambassador student-body president, delivered a discourse in which he quoted American President Calvin Coolidge:

"What we need is not more knowledge, but more character." He challenged the graduating class to commit to "give back what we've been given; make a difference; create a vision for the future."

The university gave several graduates special awards. Eric Murdock, Statesville, N.C., and Kim Fricke, Altoona, Iowa, were given a sportsmanship award, while the Shari Lee Seltzer Award went to Angie Fuessel, Cantonment, Fla., and the Russel Shiver Award to Carl Patillo, Little Rock, Ark. The Leon Ettinger Music Award was received by Sharon Stewart, Colorado Springs, Colo., and Herbert W. Armstrong Achievement Awards went to Mr. Marshall, Shoshana Paige, Gladewater, Texas, Todd Woods, Davenport, Iowa, and Miss Fricke.

Academic Excellence Awards, presented to graduates achieving the top two grade-point averages of their class, went to Miss Paige (4.0 GPA) and Miss Fricke (3.978 GPA).

After the ceremony, the 1996 graduates were recognized in a toast to their class during an outdoor reception on campus.

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