Ovations for SPU hero at commencement ceremony

by: Deborah Horne Updated:


SEATTLE - When Jon Meis' name was called to receive his diploma at Seattle Pacific University's commencement, he received the biggest ovation of the day.

The engineering graduate seemed to accept it with the same grace that earned him the title "hero" for stopping the armed man who had just fired on his fellow students.

It was an act that few here are likely ever to forget.  It was also the theme of the opening address from SPU's president to the more than 900 other graduates.

"We grieve the loss of our student, your classmate, Paul Lee," Dr. Daniel Martin told SPU graduates. "We continue to pray for those who are still hurting, physically and emotionally." 

He thanked the first responders and students who helped subdue the shooter.

"This certainly includes the brave and courageous actions of 2014 graduating senior, Jon Meis," he said, eliciting still more applause.

The shooting two weeks ago rocked the Free Methodist university just before finals' week and the end of the school year.  But the students told us they would not let  the tragedy steal their joy.

Still even commencement speaker, Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense fund, could not resist mentioning their heroics.

"Your faith and action (came) at a time of great trial," said Edelman.  "It's moved the whole nation."

Then it was time for the students to receive their degrees.

"Will the candidates for the baccalaureate degree, please stand and remain standing?" Gary Ames, chairman of the SPU board of trustees, asked those assembled.

When no one moved, he added.

"That's all of you!"  The graduates laughed, then stood up for the traditional procession to receive their diplomas.

During the ceremony, SPU's president also announced a scholarship in Meis' name.

In an email, a spokeswoman told KIRO 7, it will be awarded annually to engineering students "who reflect the spirit of SPU and live a life beyond themselves for the benefit of others."