Hardin-Simmons University President Eric Bruntmyer presided over his first convocation Thursday, September 7, 2017. His address
encouraged students, faculty, and staff to recognize their value as people
made in the image of God.
Dr. Kelvin Kelley, Associate Professor of Theology and
Coordinator of Student Diversity Programs, gave the invocation, ending with the
famous peace prayer of St. Frances of Assisi.
President Bruntmyer recognized the student body as the
university’s largest enrollment since 2012, the freshmen class for being the
largest since 2008, and returning students for having a 75% retention rate—the
highest in the history of HSU. He also thanked the Board of Trustees, the
President’s Administrative Council, and University Chancellor, Dr. Lanny Hall.
Dr. Thomas V. Brisco, Provost and Chief Academic Officer,
welcomed special guests including publicly elected officials, law enforcement
officers, local ministers, businessmen, and educational representatives. He
also introduced academic deans and the HSU faculty and staff.
Dr. Phil Christopher, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church,
Abilene, read 1 Corinthians 13, the passage which embodies James B. Simmons’
desire for HSU to be Christlieb College, the College of Christ’s Love.
In his introduction, Dr. Brisco praised President Bruntmyer
for his dedication to the school for over a year now. He called him qualified,
accessible, energetic, visionary, compassionate, and a man of deep faith.
Bruntmyer began his address by passing around a sculpture he
made in college. Although he was not an artist, he said that creating a human
form taught him much about the character of God.
“God is a creative god,” he said. “We are one of his many
creations, but we are the only ones made in his image. His fingerprints are all
He encouraged the audience to remember that they have
incredible value to God and that He gave his son for each of them.
“We’ve been told that we’re either worth nothing, or we’re
the center of the universe,” he said. "Both of those are lies. It is only by
seeing a true picture of ourselves that we can live the life God intends for
While Bruntmyer recognized that many issues divide the world
today, he reminded the audience of Jesus’ simple commandment to his followers:
love God and love others.
“Take seriously your value and the value of others,” he
said. “God is equipping you with the tools and talents to conquer the problems
of this generation.”
Dr. Perry Kay Haley Brown, Dean of the College of Human
Sciences and Educational Studies, concluded the service with the benediction,
thanking God for His past blessings on Hardin-Simmons and asking for His favor
in the future.