Conn to Speak at Spring Commencement

Alumni, Events, Featured, Graduation, News

Lee University will hold its 184th commencement ceremonies for spring graduates May 6-7. Dr. Paul Conn, the university’s chancellor, will deliver the commencement address.

Conn transitioned into his current role as chancellor after serving a 34-year tenure as the university’s president.

“No single individual in Lee’s 103-year history has had a more transformational impact on the university like Chancellor Conn,” said Lee President Dr. Mark Walker. “Having Dr. Conn as our commencement speaker is a thrill for the entire institution, especially our graduates. Arguably, Lee has never had a more anticipated commencement address.”

Dr. Paul Conn

After graduating from Lee College in 1967, Conn earned a Doctor of Philosophy at Emory University and returned to Lee as a psychology instructor in 1971. Within the next 15 years, Conn received the school’s top award for “Excellence in Teaching,” served two post-doctoral appointments at Harvard University, chaired the Department of Behavioral Sciences, served as vice president of Institutional Advancement, and authored or co-authored more than 20 books about various public, business, and ministry leaders.

In 1986, Conn, along with his wife Darlia McLuhan Conn, accepted the challenge to lead Lee University. Conn’s presidency at Lee is characterized by revolutionary expansion alongside a determination to remain true to its original core values. He has won numerous awards during his tenure and has been elected to the governing boards of many national and regional higher education organizations. Meanwhile, the school has grown in size, quality, reputation, and reach, with enrollment and physical campus size increasing fivefold, 30 building projects, a tenfold increase in operating budget, and status as one of Cleveland’s largest employers.

Conn has also overseen the expansion of curriculum at Lee, quadrupling the number of undergraduate degree programs offered, launching Lee’s first master and doctoral level programs, and initiating a host of initiatives such as global perspectives and service learning, each now an integral part of the Lee experience. As Lee’s president, Conn has personally conferred 21,420 degrees to students.

Graduation festivities will begin with a hooding ceremony for students earning graduate degrees. This service is a ticketed event and will take place in Pangle Hall on Friday, May 6, at 4:30 p.m. This is the largest class of graduate students to date.

Following the Friday hooding ceremony, all graduates will march in the commissioning service at 6:30 p.m. on the South Campus Quad Lawn. During commissioning, a special occasion for students and their families to reflect on their experiences at the university, five student speakers will share brief stories about their time at Lee. Students will also lead in the invocation, special music, and the benediction. Each graduate will be presented with a personalized Bible in a traditional walk across the stage.

A reception for guests and graduates will take place at the Darlia McLuhan Conn Forum following the commissioning service.

The commencement ceremony on Saturday morning is the official conferral of degrees and recognition of academic achievement. Each graduate will cross the stage and be congratulated by President Walker as Dr. Debbie Murray, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, recognizes each student by name.

The commissioning and commencement services will not require tickets unless inclement weather shifts the ceremony inside of the Paul Dana Walker Arena, where seating is limited. Climate-controlled overflow seating for both services will also be available. Over 630 degrees are set to be conferred, about 100 of which are for graduate students.

The hooding, commissioning, and commencement ceremonies will be available for livestream viewing at

For more information about commencement exercises, contact the Academic Events Office at [email protected] or visit

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