Bridgewater College

Dr. Oskar Scheikl, former Superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools, and The Reverend Wilfred E. Nolen ’63, Bridgewater College trustee, will serve as the College’s Commencement and Baccalaureate speakers for 2024, respectively.

Approximately 285 undergraduate students and 35 master’s students are expected to receive degrees at the Commencement exercises, which will take place on Saturday, May 4, at 10 a.m. on the Campus Mall. Scheikl will deliver a speech entitled “Self and Service” to the new graduates.

For details on Commencement, including directions, a campus map and a link to a livestream of the event, visit bridgewater.edu/commencement.

The College’s Baccalaureate service will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 3, in Cole Hall. Nolen, a retired administrator in the Church of the Brethren, will deliver a speech entitled “Washing Feet: A Symbol.”

About Dr. Oskar Scheikl

Dr. Oskar Scheikl retired as Superintendent of Rockingham County Public Schools (RCPS) in June 2023 after nearly three decades of service in public education.

“Education has always been a passion of mine,” says Scheikl, who began his career teaching social studies at Broadway High School in 1995.

After five years in teaching, Scheikl moved into the RCPS District Technology Department, first managing district and student data and then as Director of Information Management. He was appointed Superintendent of RCPS in 2017. During his six-year tenure as head of the 25-school system, Scheikl developed programs to support student mental and behavioral health and created new project-based learning opportunities for students. He also led 11,800 students and 2,500 employees through the Covid-19 pandemic, which he describes as the greatest challenge of his professional career.

Earlier this year, RCPS gained national attention when the School Board voted to temporarily remove 57 books—mostly covering LGBTQIA and race-related themes—from school libraries. Scheikl said he sees this as indicative of larger culture wars in American society but expressed great confidence in the next generation in navigating these challenges.

“I have tremendous faith in this generation,” he says. “It is the most open-minded, inclusive group that I have seen. And I believe that they will do great things.”

Scheikl grew up in Austria and moved to the United States in 1992, later becoming a U.S. citizen. He earned a B.S. in history and an M.S in computer science from James Madison University and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Virginia.

Not long after his retirement, Scheikl returned to public education and currently serves as Data Systems Coordinator for Harrisonburg City Public Schools and adjunct instructor at James Madison University. Scheikl and his wife, Denell, have four children and live outside of Harrisonburg. In his free time, Scheikl enjoys traveling with his family, coaching soccer and skydiving.

About The Reverend Wilfred E. Nolen ’63

The Rev. Wil Nolen came to Bridgewater College in 1959 from Bassett, Va., a small town known primarily for furniture-making and textiles. Although his parents had little formal education, they believed in its value, and he, along with a number of other Bassett young people in the Church of the Brethren (COB), came to Bridgewater College to further their education.

In addition to his studies, Nolen worked numerous jobs on campus throughout college, was part of the Church of the Brethren youth leadership, played the piano and organ, sang in choral ensembles, and ran track and cross country. He graduated from Bridgewater in 1963 with a B.A. in music.

Upon graduation, he headed to the Chicago area, where he studied music performance and choral conducting at the American Conservatory of Music and completed a master of divinity from Bethany Theological Seminary (then located in Oak Brook, Ill.). As an administrator of church programs, Nolen has always taken seriously the call to service, along with valuing and respecting others, no matter their background or differences.

“We are all part of the great brotherhood/sisterhood of the world,” he says. “Our differences should not keep us from seeing the unity in our common humanity.”

For 43 years, Nolen served in various roles in the Church of the Brethren’s Elgin, Ill., headquarters. In 1983, he joined the COB Pension Board, eventually serving as the founding president of the board’s successor organizations, the Brethren Benefit Trust (now Eder Financial) and the Brethren Foundation.

In 1993, Nolen received the College’s Outstanding Service Award and has also served on the College’s Board of Trustees since 1993. Nolen and his wife Joyce established The Rev. Wilfred E. and Dr. Joyce A. Nolen Fund for Music at Bridgewater College in 2008, and in 2023, they named The Rev. Wilfred E. and Dr. Joyce A. Nolen School of Business and Professional Studies at the College.

Media Contact:
Heather Cole
Editor & Director of Media Relations
hcole@bridgewater.edu
(540) 828-5720

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