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Oxford graduates Class of 2013

Oxford College held its 168th commencement exercises Saturday. Nearly 350 graduates marched across the campus quad.

Oxford College held its 168th commencement exercises Saturday. Nearly 350 graduates marched across the campus quad.

OXFORD -- Oxford College held its 168th commencement exercises Saturday on its campus quad.

More than 340 graduates were honored, marking the end of their time at Oxford and continuance on to Emory University's Atlanta campus for the completion of their undergraduate degrees.

About one fifth of the students in each Emory freshman class choose to begin their baccalaureate studies with Oxford's liberal-arts-intensive program. As juniors, they continue their studies on Emory's Atlanta campus.

Beginning with the traditional processional of special guests, faculty and graduates, the ceremony was led by Emory University's official bagpiper playing "The Emory and Old St. Andrews March" and wearing the colors of Emory University and the University of St. Andrews, Emory's sister university in Scotland.

An address was delivered by Emory University Provost Claire Sterk. Emory University President James W. Wagner conferred their degrees and welcomed them to the university's campus in Atlanta. Dean Robin Forman of Emory College of Arts and Sciences also gave welcoming remarks.

In addition to the awarding of diplomas to the 2013 graduates, the ceremony included the announcement of two of Oxford's most prestigious awards. Amy Van Pelt of Coral Springs, Fla., was named the winner of the 2013 Eady Sophomore Service Award. Dean Joe Moon presented the award, commending Van Pelt for her leadership as a student athlete and Volunteer Oxford coordinator, immersing herself in the life of Oxford College and that of the surrounding community.

The winner of the 2013 Emory Williams Award for Excellence in Teaching was Clark Lemons, professor of English, who joined the Oxford College faculty in 1982. Oxford Dean Stephen Bowen presented the award, citing Lemons for "personal, empathetic support and his contagious passion for the English language in its many forms ... His scholarly passion and discernment yoked to commitment and caring for students is a model for any teacher."

Special commencement guests were members of the Oxford College Class of 1963, known as Golden Robes. The 50th anniversary of their Oxford graduation makes them members of Corpus Cordis Aureum, or Golden Corps of the Heart, and members of this class were in the processional, wearing gold robes to denote their milestone. Alumni in attendance from the Class of 1962 or earlier classes -- a group known as the Golden Eagles -- wore gold cords, signifying their status.

Oxford received a record number of student applicants for fall entrance -- 6,586 applications overall, slightly more than last year. Oxford anticipates a 2013 entering class of about 480 students.

Its total enrollment usually hovers around 900 students for freshman and sophomore students.