April 25, 2019

Andrews University Announces Spring Graduation Speakers

Graduation takes place May 3 -5


BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich.—Andrews University’s spring graduation will take place May 3–5, 2019. The weekend’s central events begin Friday evening with the Consecration service, continue Saturday morning with Baccalaureate services and conclude Sunday with Commencement services. All services will take place at Pioneer Memorial Church unless otherwise noted. Overflow seating is available in the Pioneer Memorial Church Youth Chapel. Please note that in order to provide more seating for families of graduates, Commencement is held in three separate services by school/college and is reserved seating only.

Additional academic and cultural programs are planned for Friday and Saturday. Consult the online schedule for a complete listing at andrews.edu/graduation.



Glenn E. Russell, associate professor of religion and chair of the Department of Religion &

Biblical Languages, will present the Consecration address “What Time Is It?” on Friday, May 3,

at 8 p.m.

Russell holds a BA in theology from Columbia Union College, a Master of Divinity from the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University and a Doctor of Ministry from Trinity International University. Before his current position, Russell served as a district pastor for the Potomac Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and taught religion at Andrews Academy. Since 1990, Russell has led hundreds of students on mission trips and evangelistic series worldwide as the youth missions director for Pioneer Memorial Church. He has also authored secondary religion textbooks, served on the editorial committee for the secondary Bible curriculum for the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists and is the host of Scriptural Pursuit, a weekly international radio and television broadcast. Russell is married to Sharon Savickas Russell, and they have two adult children, Jeremy and Erica. His hobbies include playing the guitar, reading, travel, football (soccer) and bicycling.



On Saturday, May 4, Kenneth A. Denslow, assistant to the president of the North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists, will offer the Baccalaureate address for both the 9 a.m. (graduate) and 11:45 a.m. (undergraduate) services. His presentation is titled “Homecoming!”

Before assuming his position as assistant to the NAD president in 2011, Denslow was the president of the Illinois Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. He and his wife, Patricia, have two married children, Michael and Kristin. They take every opportunity they can to visit their children and granddaughters in Texas and Illinois. As a family, they have a combined total of eight degrees from Andrews University. Denslow also enjoys cycling and reading.

A vespers program will take place in Pioneer Memorial Church at 8:30 p.m. on May 4. Immediately following vespers, there will be a President’s Reception for graduating students and their parents in the Great Lakes Room of the Campus Center.



On Sunday, May 5, Chief Justice and president of the Supreme Court in the Republic of Kenya and honorary degree candidate David K. Maraga will be the speaker for the 8:30 a.m. Commencement service for graduates of the School of Education and the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary. His address is titled “From Grass to Grace.”

Maraga holds law degrees from the University of Nairobi and a Diploma in Legal Practice from the Kenya School of Law. In addition to being the Chief Justice, he is the chair of the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the body with the responsibility of overseeing the operations of the judiciary. Prior to joining the judiciary, Maraga was a legal practitioner in private practice for 25 years. His contribution to the development of the law has been immense, and the transformative effect of his work has made him one of the most sought-after speakers both locally and internationally. Maraga is a God-fearing man and a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church where he serves as an elder in his local church. He is a devoted husband and father of three children.



Co-founder and parliamentary leader of the Party for the Animals and honorary degree candidate Marianne Thieme will speak for the 11 a.m. Commencement service on Sunday, May 5. Her address is titled “Talking About a Revolution.” This service is for students graduating from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Thieme studied law at Erasmus University in Rotterdam. In her role as party leader of the Party for the Animals, the first elected political party in the world that focuses on the importance of the whole planet and all its inhabitants, Thieme works to make the protection of animals, nature and the environment a focus of political parties. In March 2017 she led another successful election campaign with the party winning five seats in the Dutch Parliament, making the party even more influential. Thieme has two daughters and lives with her husband, Ewald Engelen, in Maarssen, the Netherlands. She became interested in the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of its focus on vegetarianism and care for our planet as a way of good stewardship. She was baptized in 2006.



Ernesto Medina Jr., director of alumni engagement and assistant professor of preventive care at Loma Linda University School of Public Health, as well as a member of the Andrews University Board of Trustees, will present his address “Sam’s Seven Secrets to Success” for the May 5 Commencement service at 2 p.m. This service is for students graduating from the School of Architecture & Interior Design, School of Business Administration, School of Distance Education & International Partnerships and School of Health Professions.

An alum of both Andrews University, where he earned a BS in health science, and Loma Linda University, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in public health, Medina spent years working in the area of lifestyle medicine at a medical group. In 2014, he returned to Loma Linda University School of Public Health and focused on diabetes prevention, health coaching, and worksite wellness programs and interventions. He has been nicknamed the “Physical Activity Evangelist” for his constant promotion of various physical activity events in Southern California for over 30 years. Always on the lookout for unique forms of physical activity, Medina is currently researching the public health applications of a sport called pickleball. He, along with his wife, Keri, their 21-year-old daughter, Summer, and their two dogs—Roxy and Davy—practice what they preach on a daily basis.

Select graduation services will be livestreamed. For details, visit andrews.edu/graduation.


      Founded in 1874, Andrews University is the flagship institution of higher education for the Seventh-day Adventist Church and offers more than 200 areas of study, including advanced degrees. Its main campus is in Berrien Springs, Michigan, but the University also provides instruction at colleges and universities in more than 19 countries around the world.