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A.M.E. Church Leader to Give B-CU Commencement Address, Receive Honorary Degree University Administrator Also to Receive Honorary Doctorate

On Saturday, May 8, 2010, Bethune-Cookman University will welcome Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie, presiding prelate of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church's 13th Episcopal District, to this year's commencement ceremony.    The theme is "The Journey of the Drumbeat.” The commencement ceremony will be held at 10:00 am on Saturday, May 8th at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, FL.   Bishop McKenzie will deliver the commencement address and will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. In addition, E. Dean Montgomery, B-CU's executive vice president/chief financial officer/chief operations officer will receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Business Administration.

 "It is my great honor to welcome Bishop Vashti McKenzie to Bethune-Cookman University, the first woman to be elected bishop in her denomination.  She is a transformative leader and visionary woman of faith whose life and spirit embody the legacy of our founder, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune.  In these challenging times, our graduating seniors will benefit greatly from the wisdom and insight Bishop McKenzie will provide in her remarks,” noted B-CU President Trudie Kibbe Reed.  "It is also with great pleasure and pride that we will present Mr. E. Dean Montgomery with an honorary doctorate degree.  Mr. Montgomery is a nationally recognized CFO who has guided B-CU with excellent leadership.”

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie

Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie serves as the 117th elected and consecrated bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Her historic election in the year 2000 represents the first time in the church's history that a woman had obtained the level of Episcopal office. In 2004, she again made history by becoming the first woman Titular Head of the denomination as the president of the Council of Bishops. Bishop McKenzie had previously served in 2000-2004 as the chief Episcopal servant of the 18th Episcopal District in Southeast Africa which comprises Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique.

As presiding prelate of the 13th Episcopal District, which includes the State of Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Kentucky, she has launched an innovative agenda designed to "Rebuild Lives, Churches and Communities,” through several new ministries.  Prior to becoming a bishop, she served for ten years as the pastor of historic Payne Memorial AME Church in Baltimore, Maryland growing that congregation to over 1,700 members.

Bishop McKenzie is the author of four books. The first two, Not without a Struggle and Strength in the Struggle address leadership and professional growth for women.  Journey to the Well helps women seek new directions for personal growth and transformation following the footsteps of the Biblical Samaritan woman.  Her latest book is Swapping Housewives, the story of Rachel, Jacob and Leah.

She is a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park; holds a Master of Divinity from Howard University School of Divinity and has earned a Doctor of Ministry degree from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

E. Dean Montgomery

Mr. E. Dean Montgomery serves as B-CU's executive vice president, chief financial officer and chief operating officer.  Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accrediting body for colleges and universities in 11 southern states, recently presented him with the organization's Meritorious Service Award in recognition of his service as a peer reviewer in the accreditation process.   

Two years ago, the Southern Education Foundation invited him to be a presenter on the SACSCOC accreditation process at a forum held at Harvard University.  That presentation led to an invitation for Montgomery to be a guest lecturer on higher education financial management at Harvard's Graduate School of Education (GSE).  Montgomery also spent time at Harvard last summer, attending the GSE's Institute for Educational Management.

Montgomery has been at B-CU since 1999.

Office of Public Relations

Liz Poston

PH: 386-481-2990

About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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