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The 160th Commencement

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is excited to celebrate its 160th Commencement on Friday, May 12, 2017. This year's commencement speaker will be Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College. Garrett-Evangelical will also be honoring two distinguished alums and over 75 graduates. Graduation events begin with Senior Chapel on May 11th at 7:00 p.m. in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful at Garrett-Evangelical. The 160th Commencement Service is at 10:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Evanston, Illinois with a reception to follow.

For those unable to be in Evanston, Illinois for Commencement, a live webcast will be available at The webcast will begin at 9:55 a.m. on Friday, May 12th.

Dr. James E. K. Hildreth
Meharry Medical College,
President and Chief Executive Office

Dr. James E. K. Hildreth, president and chief executive officer of Meharry Medical College, will be the commencement speaker at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary’s 160th Commencement service on May 12, 2017. Hildreth will also be awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. The commencement service will begin at 10:00 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Evanston.

A leader in the effort to engage churches and faith leaders in the fight against HIV and AIDS, Hildreth is internationally renowned for his research demonstrating the importance of cholesterol and specialized membrane regions containing cholesterol in HIV infection. Hildreth began research on HIV and AIDS in 1986 and his research has been funded by grants through the National Institute of Health (NIH) for nearly two decades. He is also the recipient of a major grant from the Center for Disease Control to support his HIV prevention and treatment in partnership with church leaders.

Hildreth has received many accolades throughout his illustrious career in the medical field, including being elected to the National Academy of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, the most prestigious biomedical and health policy advisory group in the United States. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame and the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars and in 2011 he received the National Institute of Health Director’s Pioneer Award. Throughout his career he has been honored with numerous awards for mentoring, leadership, and efforts related to diversity.

Reflecting on the first time she heard Hildreth lecture, Dr. Lallene J. Rector, president of Garrett-Evangelical, said, “I was most fortunate to attend a lecture at Meharry last fall given by Dr. Hildreth during a United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry meeting. I was at once moved by his story, his humility, and by the life of public service he has led – a life I recognized was also infused with the seminary’s values and with our commitment to equip our graduates to work for the well-being of all persons. Dr. Hildreth is a remarkable man, animated by a spirit of care for others. We are very excited and honored that he will be our commencement speaker this year!”

In 2002, Hildreth became the first African-American in the 125-year history at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to earn full professorship with tenure in the basic sciences. He later served as director of the NIH-funded Center for AIDS Health Disparities Research at Meharry Medical College, a United Methodist related institution and the nation’s largest private, independent historically black academic health sciences center. Hildreth was appointed as dean of the College of Biological Sciences at University of California, Davis, in 2011, becoming the first African-American dean at the university since it was founded in 1905. Hildreth returned to Meharry Medical College in 2015 to serve in his current role as president & CEO.

Born and raised in Camden, Arkansas, Hildreth began undergraduate studies at Harvard University in 1975 and became the first African-American Rhodes Scholar from Arkansas in 1978. Upon graduating Harvard magna cum laude in chemistry, he attended Oxford University in England and completed the doctor of philosophy degree in immunology. He returned to the United States to attend Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where he received the doctor of medicine degree in 1987.

Hildreth is married to Phyllis Drennon King and they have two children, Sophia and James.

Each year, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary chooses two alumni to be honored as Distinguished Alumni at our Commencement Ceremony. One alumnus is chosen from the most recent 25 years of graduates, and one alumnus is chosen from all those alumni who graduated over 25 years ago. For our 160th Commencement, Garrett-Evangelical is pleased to honor Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Dahl and Rev. Dr. Carmichael D. Crutchfield as our Distinguished Alumni.

Stephen A. Dahl
Garrett Theological Seminary, 1967

Like his father, Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Dahl knew from an early age that he would study for the ministry and seek ordination within what is now the Northern Illinois Conference (NIC) of The United Methodist Church (UMC). During seminary, he was appointed assistant pastor at Crete UMC, where he was responsible for youth and adult education. Following graduation, he became senior pastor to Calvary UMC in Cicero during a historically fraught period in the local civil rights struggle. Later he was asked to establish a church in the newly developing northwestern suburbs, where he guided outreach efforts that tripled membership and completed a major building project. These early experiences of establishing meaningful spiritual and engaged relationships with people of all ages and backgrounds confirmed a particular God-given gift for ministry. This gift has shaped Dahl and has, throughout his career, drawn him into unique missional settings. In all places to which God has called him, he has changed lives and enabled the healing and well-being of thousands of individuals.

In 1985, Dahl was appointed to serve as the president and CEO of Bethany Methodist Communities (BMC). Over the past 30 years, Dahl has profoundly influenced BMC’s governance, management and operational structures, its role within the Church, and its impact on clients, staff, and the communities in which its facilities are located. Early on, he studied and taught the story of the Good Samaritan, encouraging and drawing BMC into embodying the compassion shown by the long-ago traveler. He moved out beyond the walls of his office and into the heart of the organization. He knew and enjoyed the company of elderly residents, volunteers and employees, and their families. He worshiped with and taught them, participated in their social activities and established funds to assist those who lack friends, family, and financial resources of their own

Dahl contributed significantly to the body of senior- and health-care knowledge and practice in church-related workplaces across the country. Over his decades-long leadership with the United Methodist Association of Health and Welfare Ministries (UMA), he served in multiple board roles, most recently as chairman and the immediate past chairman. During his tenure, he guided the association to provide education for leaders and staff of UMA’s 400 member organization, focusing always on the ways faith-based agencies can blend their history and values with best business and clinical practice.

Throughout his tenure at BMC, Dahl advocated for the UMC, its annual conferences, and their respective agencies to use the gifts of connection to strengthen their shared ministries on behalf of God’s people served by those many bodies. To that end, he and two successive UMA presidents convened meetings among the UMA, the General Board of Global Ministries and the General Council on Finance and Administration. Those sessions resulted in the unanimous adoption of the 2008 General Conference of A Resolution on Quality United Methodist Healthcare and the unanimous vote at 2012 General Conference to adopt new legislation for the Book of Discipline. The later provides structure for annual conferences and their agencies to develop effective Covenant Relationship Statements that will lead to enhanced health and welfare services and provide legal financial projections for all concerned entities, affecting millions of people of all ages in the United States.

Within the tradition of The UMC – whether administering the Sacraments, preaching, teaching, managing, or simply being present with staff and clients – Dahl remained dedicated to a personal and corporate life of faithful love and service, of relationships reflective of God’s call to community and Kingdom.



Carmichael D. Crutchfield
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, 2010

Rev. Dr. Carmichael D. Crutchfield is currently the general secretary of the Department of Christian Education for the Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church and associate professor of Christian Education, Spiritual Formation, and Youth Ministry at Memphis Theological Seminary. He is also the pastor of Lane Chapel CME Church in Humboldt, Tennessee.

Over the last 15-plus years as general secretary, Crutchfield has been responsible for the religious educational development of the entire Christian Methodist Episcopal Church. He has also written various articles and has made writing contributions to the CME Church, including works titled, “A Trifold of Understanding of Giving” and “It is All About Discipleship.” As a Fellow in 1992 with the Congress of National Black Churches, he produced a book titled, Enlightened Males: A Rites of Passage Manual for African American Boys. His most recent publication is “Identity Formation and Leadership in Process,” an essay included in the book Educating for Redemptive Community edited by Denise Janssen.

In his role on the faculty at Memphis Theological Seminary, Crutchfield is serving his second term as chair of the faculty, fourth term as chair of the Henry Starks African American Scholarship Dinner, and fourth year as coordinator of the Master of Arts in youth ministry degree. Additionally, he is a member of the Board of Directors for the Religious Education Association.

Crutchfield has always been actively involved in the community and has served on many boards throughout his pastoral/ministry career. He presently serves on the Trustee Boards of Lane College, Paine College, and Phillips School of Theology.

Crutchfield has been recognized for his work with numerous awards. Recently, the Center for the Church in the Black Experience of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary named him as one of its 45 outstanding alumni, in honor of the Center’s 45th anniversary.

Crutchfield is a native Tennessean, born in Weakley Country and educated through high school in Henry County. He received a bachelor of science with a major in accounting from the University of Tennessee Martin. He received a master of science in operations management from the University of Arkansas Fayetteville and a master of divinity with honors from Memphis Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee. He received his doctor of ministry from Memphis Theological Seminary and a doctor in philosophy in Christian Education and Congregational Studies from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

He was married to the former Cora Hawkins of Covington, Tennessee for 33 years before her death in February 2011. His immediate family is son Chris and daughter-in-law Krystal Crutchfield, and daughter Chantel Hope and son-in-law, Darrius Pewitte, and grandchildren Darian, Taylor, and Chloe.



Wednesday, May 10th

12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m.
Graduate's Luncheon
Alice Millar Chapel, Northwestern University, 1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois

1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.     
Commencement rehearsal and class picture
First United Methodist Church, Sanctuary
516 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois

2:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.     
Cap, gown, and hood pickup
First United Methodist Church, Dining Room
516 Church St, Evanston, Illinois

4:00 p.m.
Senior Chapel rehearsal (only participants need to come)

Thursday, May 11th

8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.     
Cap, gown, hood pick-up in the Registrar's Office

5:15 p.m.                        
Trustee and 50th Alum Reunion Dinner
Loder Hall of Garrett-Evangelical
2121 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, Illinois

7:00 p.m.
Senior Chapel for the Garrett-Evangelical community, graduates, and their families
Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful at Garrett-Evangelical
2121 Sheridan Rd, Evanston, Illinois

Friday, May 12th

8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.     
Graduates assemble for Commencement line-up with caps, gowns,
and hoods in the Dining Room of First United Methodist Church

10:00 a.m.                      
160th Commencement
First United Methodist Church of Evanston
516 Church Street, Evanston, Illinois

Reception in the Great Hall immediately following Commencement

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.    
Return cap, gowns, and hoods to Dining Room of First United Methodist Church


For campus map and directions to Garrett-Evangelical, click here.

For directions to First United Methodist Church, click here.


Parking for Senior Chapel on Thursday, May 11, 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

  • We have arranged for a moratorium on parking tickets after 4:30 p.m., which means people will be able to use the Northwestern University lot to our south free of charge.

Parking for Commencement on Friday, May 12, 10:00 a.m.

  • Across the street from First Church Evanston is the Church St. Self Park, a multi-level garage at the intersection of Church St. and Chicago Ave. Parking is free for the first hour. For a city map and pricing information for public garages, go to Lots & Garages on the City of Evanston's website.