University of Mount Olive Fall Graduation set for December 14

University of Mount Olive will graduate over 250 students on Saturday December 14, at its fall Graduation ceremony. The event will take place in Kornegay Arena beginning at 2PM.

The keynote speaker will be Stephen R. Parr. Parr has more than 30 years of experience with United Way and has recently led the organization through a transformational period.  For the past 24 years he has served as executive director of United Way of Wayne County, a $1.2M organization which provides investment grants for local non-profit programs and services in Wayne County.


Parr is an avid voice for collaborative approaches to create long term solutions to local issues of health and wellness, education, financial stability and community responsiveness to personal crisis.  He sees United Way’s role in the community as a vehicle to create a vision for good in Wayne County.


A graduate of the University of New Hampshire’s Whittemore School of Business and Economics, Parr and his wife live in Goldsboro.


Dr. Tommy Benson will be the baccalaureate speaker. Baccalaureate will begin at 10:30 AM and will be held in Southern Bank Auditorium in Raper Hall. Benson has spent 42 years in education after graduating with degrees from East Carolina University, UNC Chapel Hill and Nova Southeastern University. Before joining the faculty at University of Mount Olive as chair of the education department, he spent time as principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent of Duplin County Schools, helping to launch several initiatives throughout all grade levels, including; a research project on effective teaching, partnering with local and international universities; an evaluation instrument that was implemented statewide; and a district-wide school reform effort named the STAR initiative was undertaken as well as several other notable achievements.

Benson’s time at University of Mount Olive has been marked by his campaign to develop a teacher education licensure program.

University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The College, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Goldsboro, Research Triangle Park, Washington and Jacksonville. For more information, visit