08/03/14 — University of Mount Olive graduation set for Aug. 23

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University of Mount Olive graduation set for Aug. 23

By From staff reports
Published in News on August 3, 2014 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Approximately 220 students will receive their degrees during the University of Mount Olive's summer commencement on Saturday, Aug. 23, at 2 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.

Sarah Merritt, executive director of the Arts Council of Wayne County, will be the commencement speaker.

The Rev. Bryant Hines Jr. will be the speaker for the baccalaureate service that will be held at 10:30 a.m. that day in the Southern Bank Auditorium in Raper Hall.

Hines, an ordained minister for 35 years, is currently serving as pastor of Rose of Sharon Free Will Baptist Church in Bear Grass. He is a graduate of Mount Olive College where he earned his associate's degree in religion and theology.

He graduated from Atlantic Christian College with his bachelor's degree in religion and theology.

Hines has held several positions within the Free Will Baptist denominational ministries including serving on the Eastern Conference Board of Ordination, the board of directors at Cragmont Assembly, as president of the Ministerial Association, and as moderator of the Central Conference of Original Free Will Baptists.

Since being named executive director in 2006, Mrs. Merritt has been dedicated to increasing the organization's presence in the community. In 2011, she led the organization in a move to a relocate the Arts Council to Goldsboro's historic downtown.

With a goal of developing more diverse and active audiences, the organization has since increased annual participation and attendance for its programs by 200 percent. In addition, the Arts Council has increased its programmatic offerings to include a studio artist program, First Fridays, the Wayne County Jazz Showcase, scholarships for K-12 art students, open mic nights, gallery talks, and Sunday in the Park.

Through her leadership, the organization has developed partnerships with community organizations formed to provide a number of annual programs and projects.

Mrs. Merritt has served on the board of directors of the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corporation for nine years and the St. Francis Episcopal Church Vestry for six years.

Professionally, in 2010 and 2011, she served on the North Carolina Arts Council's Community Arts Grant Panel.

From 2007 to 2014, she served on the Board of Arts North Carolina and is currently involved as Chair of the organization's Strategic Planning Committee.

Mrs. Merritt is a graduate of the University of Maryland, University College with a bachelor of arts in art history. She holds a master's of science in arts administration from Drexel University.