Adrian College to Recognize Honorary Degree Recipients During Commencement

ADRIAN, Mich. – Spring commencement at Adrian College is scheduled for 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, April 29, 2012. Last year began a new tradition of holding commencement on the mall; this year the celebration will once again resume at the center of campus near Herrick Bell Tower. Over 300 students are expected to take part in the ceremony.

Pat Boone, legendary entertainer, is this year’s commencement speaker and will receive an honorary degree. During commencement, two other individuals, Adrian resident Hildreth Houston Spencer and the late Ingrid Cornelius Roberts, will be awarded honorary degrees for their long history with Adrian College and their philanthropic contributions to the College and other organizations.

The daughter of the former director of Adrian’s music department, Dr. James Spencer and his wife Cornelia, Hildreth Houston Spencer’s childhood revolved around life at Adrian College. Spencer went on to earn a B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University (Phi Beta Kappa), an M.A. from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She pursued a career in education in the Highland Park region of Chicago where she established an Advanced Placement program for students. She also served on a national committee of five who wrote the history portion of the SAT placement exam. Upon her early retirement, she returned to the Adrian community to assist in the care of her mother – and a return to her second home: Adrian College.

Dr. Hildreth Spencer has continued the legacy of her parents through The James H. Spencer and Cornelia M. Spencer Music Scholarship. Spencer also provided a substantial gift toward the renovation and construction of Spencer Hall in honor of her parents, completed in fall 2010. In 2009, the AC Alumni Association recognized her life-long connection with the Honorary Alumni Award.

Spencer continues to take interest in many aspects of the College having served on the Shipman Library planning committee for its renovation, acting as a consultant for the Spencer Center for Music addition, and attending music recitals, symphony performances and other College events. Spencer also serves on the Stubnitz Foundation board and is a past member of the Adrian Symphony board and Sarasota (Fla.) Opera board.

She will be awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

Ingrid Cornelius Roberts will be honored posthumously during this year’s ceremony. Roberts shared a long and treasured legacy with Adrian College beginning with her great grandfather, Professor James D. H. Cornelius, who served the faculty teaching Greek and Latin for 44 years. The Cornelius House was built on campus to house the Adrian Chapter of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity, which he started. Her grandfather, Willard Cornelius Sr., served on the College’s Board of Trustees from 1931 to 1948 and developed a close working relationship with Adrian College esteemed chemistry professor, Dr. Elmer Jones. Willard Cornelius, Jr., “Bill Cornelius” was Ingrid’s father who also served the Board from 1983 until his death in 1987.

Roberts became the fourth generation in the family to be associated with the College, serving on the Board from 1991 to 1994. She had a special passion for student housing and was particularly pleased with recent improvements, new housing options, and the renovation of Cornelius House. She graduated from Grosse Pointe University School and attended Northwestern University. She served as director of the Mid-American Bank and married Dr. William Roberts in 1985. She passed away in October, 2011.

Roberts and Mary Lee Moon endowed the Willard M. Cornelius Jr. Memorial Scholarship for Adrian College students. In addition to other generous support of the College, upon Roberts’s death, the College received the $20 million Cornelius Trust created by her grandfather, from which proceeds will support student financial aid and future renovations to academic facilities.

William H. Roberts, Ph.D., stepson of Roberts, will accept the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters on her behalf.

Preceding the conferral of undergraduate degrees to the Class of 2012, the College will hold its Cane Ceremony, an Adrian College tradition dating back to 1875. During the ceremony, the graduating class presents the College’s beloved Shepherd’s Crook to the undergraduates as a symbol of achievement and a transfer of responsibility. Before passing the crook, the president of the graduating class attaches a ribbon bearing the name of each class member.