Summer Commencement Held


Bethel President Robert Prosser (left) congratulates Harry L. Crisp II after he is presented the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters during Summer 2012 Commencement.


Bethel University held its Summer 2012 Commencement on Saturday, Aug. 4 at 2 p.m. in the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena at the school’s McKenzie campus.

     Two hundred seventy-two students graduated. Additionally, Harry L. Crisp II, CEO of Pepsi MidAmerica, was presented with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters by Bethel President Robert Prosser.

      “As the CEO of Pepsi MidAmerica, Mr. Crisp is one of the most influential leaders in the soft drink industry today,” Prosser said. “Under his leadership, Pepsi MidAmerica has grown into the largest individually owned Pepsi Bottler in the United States. Because of your lifetime achievements in the business world and your expertise at organizational management at the highest level of industry and because of your devotion and commitment to higher education, I confer on you this honorary degree.”

     A dedication for the Rosemary and Harry Crisp II Arena was held earlier in the day. Crisp Arena is the new home to Bethel University Wildcats Basketball, a facility that was made possible by significant contributions from Crisp.

      Another special degree was presented during the ceremony as well, to the wife of Bethel student Justin Maples, who was killed this past May while serving as a police officer for the Cleveland, Tenn., Police Department. Mrs. Danielle Maples accepted an Honorary Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice on her husband’s behalf.      

     Tre Hargett, Secretary of State for the State of Tennessee, delivered Bethel’s Commencement address.

     Secretary Hargett reminded graduates to look forward to the future.

     “Don’t look back on what you would have done differently,” Hargett said. “If you stare back too long, the path can paralyze you.”

     Instead, Hargett told them to step to the line to start the next race.

     Hargett also encouraged graduates to use the piece of parchment they received to change their lives and to change the lives of the people around them.

     “I encourage you to make others around you better,” he said. “I implore you to be prepared for the moments God has built you for.”

     Headquartered in McKenzie, Bethel University is affiliated with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees through both face-to-face and online learning platforms. In addition to McKenzie, Bethel has satellite campuses in Jackson, Memphis, Nashville, Clarksville and Chattanooga. For information about Bethel University, go to