CEO of Jones Petroleum Company Speaks to a Record 517 Graduating OCU Students

OCU Class of 2014

Photo courtesy of Kimberlee Brown

Ohio Christian University (OCU) conducted its 64th commencement on Saturday, May 3, with a record graduation of 517 students. Last year, 474 students were graduated.

The first 19 students of OCU’s Master of Business Administration and Master of Management programs graduated at this commencement.

Sixty-six of the 517 graduates are from the traditional program, which consists primarily of semester long classes, taught in the day. The other graduates participated in the adult and graduate studies program classes that are taught one night each week or online, and classes are compressed (typically a 3-credit class is 5 weeks long) and students usually take one class at a time. The average age of the students graduating from the traditional program was 24 with a range of 20 to 34. The average age of the students graduating from the adult program was 42 with a range of 21 to 77.

The commencement speaker was Bill Jones, CEO of Jones Petroleum Company headquartered in Jackson, Georgia, with operations in four states.  Jones has turned Jones Petroleum Company from a one store operation to a company that employees 500 people and covers several industry types. He has also served as a teacher, coach, school superintendent, and four-term Georgia State Representative. He actively contributes to various charities and serves on various boards.

Jones encouraged graduates to...

“Think big, do what you love, and do what you are good at.”

He surprised some by saying “the secret of success is that there is no secret.” However, Jones added that graduates need to find their own way of creating success, but a primary ingredient is passion. He then outlined ten commandments for failure. These commandments included never take a risk, avoid doing anything difficult, quit learning, act superior, and never have fun.

OCU recognized Jones for his life of distinguished Christian service by awarding him a Doctorate of Christian Leadership. OCU President Mark Smith said, “Circleville is extremely fortunate to attract a speaker as distinguished as Bill Jones!”

Jacob Sunkel, of Heath, Ohio, was the valedictorian --- the graduating senior with the highest cumulative grade point average. Sunkel was also the student body president this past year.

Jessica vonBerge of Lebanon, Ohio, was the salutatorian --- the graduating senior with the second highest cumulative grade point average.

Matthew Harshbarger of Newark, Ohio, was the honor graduate for the traditional program. The honor graduate for the adult and graduate studies program was Frank Tillotson of Columbus, Ohio.  Honor graduates represent all the ideals of Ohio Christian University and are elected by the faculty. These graduates must have distinguished themselves in academic achievement, Christian service and leadership potential.

OCU President Smith commented,

“We are very proud of our graduates and expect them to accomplish much in life.”

Additionally, Smith said, “It is a privilege to work with faculty and staff who are dedicated to investing in students’ lives.” Smith also added, “OCU is thrilled to serve this community and increase the baccalaureate completion rate.”

Reverend Benny Tate was also awarded a Doctorate of Christian Leadership. Tate has served for more than 20 years as the Senior Pastor of Rock Springs Church in Milner, Georgia.  Under his leadership the church has grown from 60 in attendance to more than 6,000. Tate also serves as President of the Congregational Methodist Denomination.

Congratulations Class of 2014!


Pictured above seated left to right: Dr. Shawn Thomas, Director of Enrollment and Operations for the OCU Atlanta, Georgia site; Dr. Tim Eades, Assistant Provost and VP for Non-Traditional Education and Advancement; Dr. Tom Hermiz, Chairman of our Board of Trustees; commencement speaker Bill Jones, at the podium; President Dr. Mark Smith; Dr. Marvin Miller, Columbus Director; and Rev. Brian Hammond, father of graduate Ean Hammon.