April 2024

Baccalaureate & Legacy Ceremony

Thursday, May 2, BJU will hold the Baccalaureate and Legacy Ceremony in Founder’s Memorial Amphitorium, directly followed by the Legacy Reception. The 2022–23 academic year was the first time the two ceremonies were combined into one event celebrating the soon-to-be alumni and their families! At the ceremony, prospective graduates who are part of a legacy family — meaning one or more of their parents or grandparents graduated from BJU — will receive a special medallion to wear with their regalia the next day. Additionally, prospective graduates who are the first in their families to complete a college degree or the first to graduate from BJU will receive a cord to wear with their regalia during Commencement.

After the ceremony, the Alumni Relations Department will host the Legacy Reception in front of Rodeheaver Auditorium. If you are a legacy parent or spouse of a prospective graduate and need to submit your RSVP for the reception, please do so by clicking here.

Vogt Receives Excellence Award

Recently Dr. Brian Vogt, one of BJU’s long-time science faculty members, received the South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award. This award — based on peer suggestions and an evaluation by the SCICU Board — is well deserved and is a true testament to a man who has given over 40 years of excellent service to Bob Jones University!

For the full article featuring Dr. Brian Vogt, click here.

2024 BJU Mission Trips

Each year, BJU faculty, staff and students take part in mission teams across the globe, and this year is no different! During spring break, the Epsilon Zeta Chi Tornadoes took a mission trip to San Francisco where they aided Hamilton Square Baptist Church in evangelism. Over the upcoming summer months, BJU teams are headed to places like Cuba, Guatemala, Germany, Honduras and Uganda, among others!

Professor Mark Vowels and 2016 graduate and current seminary student, Moses Kim, are each taking teams to Cuba and Japan, respectively. Both teams’ primary objectives are to live like the missionaries do and to evangelize as much as possible. The Cuba team (pictured below) will use the avenues of sports ministry, children’s programs and service projects, while the Japan team will strive to aid the local pastors and missionaries with their continued work.

The Bruins athletic program is sending out four teams this summer to do mission work through the avenue of sports! The women’s basketball team is traveling to Puerto Rico, while the men’s basketball team will head to Costa Rica. Additionally, the men’s soccer team is going to Germany, and the women’s volleyball team will be returning to Guatemala to continue aiding Dare for More Ministries.

In June, BJU students, faculty and a graduate from the School of Health Professions will partner with students majoring in Spanish for a medical mission trip to Santa Rita, Honduras. Led by Dr. Marc Chetta, the BJU team will assist an organization called Medical Missions Outreach to provide medical services to locals, including translation assistance where needed. While the patients and family members are waiting for medical services, members of a local church trained in one-on-one evangelism have ample opportunity to give them the gospel.

Educating the whole person has long been a commitment of Bob Jones University. These mission trips provide a comprehensive experience where knowledge gained in the classroom combined with hearts stirred with a desire to advance God’s kingdom have transformative potential — both for the students and for those with whom they share the gospel.

An Extraordinary BJU Alum

Combining his radio empire with his passionate support of conservative values, Stu found himself in the presence of powerful political leaders, including presidents of the United States! His success is unquestionable and his influence extraordinary. But that is not the crux of Stu’s story.

Watch the Alumni Relations Department’s latest video tribute to an extraordinary BJU alum — Stuart Epperson Sr.

History of Commencement at BJU

On Friday, May 3 — Commencement Day — another wave of BJU graduates will join our alumni community. In honor of this annual rite of passage, the Alumni Relations Department asked BJU’s archivist, Dr. John Matzko, to provide a historical perspective.

Ambiguity is inherent in the word “commencement.” Although literally a beginning, Commencement is also a ceremony at which students receive diplomas at the end of their college career. Of course, that end also anticipates another beginning, an inauguration into another phase of life. Similarly, BJU Commencements have often celebrated the conclusion of an academic year while simultaneously looking forward to a new chapter in the school’s history.

The first Commencement, on May 31, 1928, was so unlike the modern ceremony it would hardly be recognizable. In its first year, Bob Jones College held a religious service at 9 a.m., restricted to faculty, staff, students and trustees only. At 10:30, a board member delivered a “graduation address,” but there were no graduates, only a presentation of “certificates and college honors.”

Five years later to the day, on May 31, 1933, Bob Jones College held its last Commencement in Florida. By then, there were graduates but no money. The college was bankrupt, so strapped for cash that it did not even publish a yearbook. Following the ceremony, Mrs. Jones Sr. and Bob Jones Jr. left the auditorium by a back door and, without returning to their home on the bay, drove north toward the challenges that awaited them in Cleveland, Tennessee.

At the 20th Commencement on May 28, 1947, in Cleveland, the school celebrated fourteen years of continuous growth. With 1,581 students, the school now had a student body approximately ten times larger than in 1933. And the alumni newspaper correctly anticipated that in “a new location” — in Greenville, South Carolina — ”we look to even greater growth.” That day, Bob Jones Jr. was formally installed as the second president of the University, though he had already shared administrative duties with his father for sixteen years.

During the 44th Commencement, on June 2, 1971, Bob Jones Jr., in turn, transferred the presidential medallion to Bob Jones III, again after the younger man had shared responsibility with his father for some years. Bob Jones III was only 32. Both at the time and later, he considered himself too young for the job. Thirty-four years later, when he conveyed the presidency to Stephen Jones at the 2005 Commencement, he at least waited until Stephen was a little older.

The 2005 Commencement again suggested a slightly new direction for the University. When Stephen Jones was asked by Newsweek magazine if he wanted to play a political role as had previous BJU presidents, he replied, “It would not be my choice.”

Unfortunately, because of health issues, he was forced to resign in 2014. While he was able to bid farewell to the 2014 graduating class, the presidency was not transferred during Commencement. Steve Pettit was announced as the new president a few days later and was inaugurated on September 19, 2014.

During his tenure, Steve Pettit ended up presiding over the strangest Commencement in University history. BJU closed in mid-March 2020 because of the COVID pandemic, so Commencement for the 2020 graduating class was postponed for a year until May 8, 2021 — one day after Commencement exercises were held for the 2021 graduating class. Even so, there was considerable satisfaction in having concluded that academic year with dual ceremonies.

While many institutions of higher education only offered online classes during the 2020–21 school year, BJU opened for in-person classes and welcomed a new generation of students — the freshmen who are now seniors graduating at this year’s Commencement.


Consider joining BJU faculty, staff, alumni and friends for the Biblical Worldview Conference on May 8–10. This year’s timely theme is “Living in A Trans World: A Biblical Response for Educators & Ministers.” A great line up of speakers will discuss topics ranging from the movement’s powerful influence in American classrooms and the science used to justify transgenderism to how the Church can speak up with love and much more!

To get more information and register for this conference, click here.

Senior Film Premiere

Robert Frost’s poetic words “miles to go before I sleep,” likely describe how prospective graduates feel about now! Much must be accomplished before they walk across the FMA platform at Commencement on May 3. Over the next week, prospective graduates are finishing their final projects, presentations, internships and other end-of-semester requirements. The buzz surrounding many of these projects is unmistakable, and such is the case for our cinema students as they prepare for their senior film premiere on Friday, April 26.

During their senior year, the cinema students complete two capstone courses that guide them through the entire process of making their own film, from writing and preproduction to filming production and postproduction. Working on their senior film encapsulates everything they’ve learned throughout their four years at BJU, and it presents individual growth challenges along the way. Sharyn Robertson and Christopher Zydowicz — cinema professors — thoroughly enjoy this process because of the mentoring and networking opportunities as well as the significant personal growth in their students. Usually, the students begin terrified of the daunting project of completing a film on their own. By the end, they’ve learned so much about their personal strengths and weaknesses that they walk away having experienced real accomplishment and a clear sense of God working through them.

The look of the cinema department may have shifted a bit since the days of Unusual Films, but their mission is still consistent. As Robertson aptly put it, “We are not training our students for Hollywood; we are training them for whatever and wherever the Lord leads them.” Zydowicz adds, “Our students are given a 21st-century skill-set education” through a biblical worldview. He emphasizes that the cinema classes are not just for cinema majors. Visuals are important for everyone as we continue in a culture that increasingly incorporates photos and videos into everyday life. As a result, today’s cinema students at BJU are not only learning how to make feature-length films — they are learning how to be visual communicators in whatever field God has called them to for His glory.

Support Art + Design Students

This summer, many of our students will have the opportunity to engage in biblically based, experiential learning during a study abroad course in Italy! The Division of Art & Design at BJU is committed to exposing its students to excellence in their field and helping these young artists understand what it means to be a Christian artist in today’s world. Would you consider partnering with the Division of Art & Design to make this incredible opportunity more affordable for the students? If you would like more information or would like to see what the students experience on these trips, click on the short video below or donate here.

Employment Opportunities

Alumni Updates

Future Bruins

Acree, Aaron ’10 and Caitlyn (White) ’16, Florence Ellyn, October 26, 2023
Cruz, Carlos ’21 and Anna Grace (Casillas) ’20, Josías Caleb, April 6, 2024
Luxton, Ezra and Ashley ’13, Alice Esmai, December 15, 2023
Miller, Steven and Ashley (Smith) ’11, Jacob Harrison, November 8, 2023


Anderson, Violet ’56, March 12, 2024
Brown, Laurence “Duane” ’64, September 26, 2023
Carr, Elaine (Davisson) ’56, April 4, 2024
Collins, Martha (Willis) ’67, November 11, 2023
Draggett, Linda (Sheridan) ’61, March 26, 2024
Fox, Dorothea (Laurenson) ’53, March 13, 2024
Haddix, Eva (Sprague) ’57, March 11, 2024
Hester, Richard “Dick” ’67, March 12, 2024
Husted, Suellyn F/S, April 1, 2024
McQuaid, Elwood HON, March 31, 2024
Mowrey, Richard “Dick” ’79 FE, March 30, 2024
Nolen, Kenneth ’77, March 13, 2024
Sledge, Dorothy (Sewall) ’47, March 17, 2024
Stern, Emily (Livingston) 1YB, March 16, 2024
Stiekes, George ’67, March 16, 2024
Stratton, Monica ’80, March 10, 2024
Thomas, Oran ’51, March 9, 2024
Whitten, Ella May (Brogan) ’77, March 31, 2024

*FE indicates a long-time former employee of BJU.
*F/S indicates current employee of BJU.

Class Notes

James Wilson ’80 is retiring on April 28 from his position as pastor of Carson Memorial Baptist Church in King’s Mountain, North Carolina.

Dr. Mike Schell ’82 has just completed one year as Ministry Director at Elijah’s Harbor Christian Retreat and Conference Center in Greeneville, Tennessee, after serving more than 30 years as a missionary to Micronesian Islands.

Ben Endres ’88 was promoted to Lieutenant in the Alaskan State Troopers and is now the Statewide Search and Rescue Coordinator.

Michael ’83 and Janet (Lindsey) O’Brien ’83 – Michael just retired after serving as a paramedic for 42 years. He is presently serving in his 15th year as a Magistrate Judge for Greenville County, SC. Janet just retired after serving as a teacher, secretary and police dispatcher.

Abbie Lobach ’16 recently completed her MA in human services counseling – child/parenting from Liberty University.

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Exclusion of MLM and P2P Selling

As the Alumni Relations department at Bob Jones University, we prioritize integrity and transparency within our community. To maintain these values and ensure the best experience for all users, we are unable to list Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) or Peer-to-Peer (P2P) links in the small business section of our Resource web page.

What does this mean?

  1. No MLM: We do not allow any business models that involve recruiting others into a hierarchical structure where compensation is based on the recruitment efforts of those below them rather than on actual sales or services.
  2. No P2P Selling: We do not support the direct selling of goods or services from one individual to another without proper oversight or regulation. This includes but is not limited to direct person-to-person sales, often conducted through social networks or other informal channels.

Why have we made this decision?

  • Protection of Users: We aim to protect our alumni from potential financial harm or exploitation that can be associated with MLM.
  • Maintaining Trust: By excluding MLM and P2P selling, we maintain the trust and credibility of our community, ensuring a safe and reliable environment for all participants.

If you come across any content or activity on our platform (including social media sites) that violates these guidelines, please report it immediately. Together, we can foster a community built on fairness, trust, and mutual respect.

Thank you for being a part of the BJU Alumni community.