Commencement Speakers and Honors
Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III, president of the American Bar Association, will be the undergraduate commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree. He has been practicing law for more than thirty-five years. His practice focuses on commercial litigation, class actions and product liability defense. He is member-in-charge of the Northern Kentucky office of Frost Brown Todd LLC, a regional law firm with offices in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia and Indiana. He is president of the American Bar Association for a one-year term that began last August. In recognition of his significant contributions to the legal profession and civic causes, Xavier University is honored to present Wm. T. Robinson III with the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa.
Benjamin Krause will receive Xavier’s Magis Award which recognizes a Xavier alum who has achieved a high degree of excellence and embodies Jesuit morals and ethical values. Since Krause graduated in 2003, he has helped improve the lives of the poor and marginalized by dedicating himself to international service work in some of the world’s poorest countries. Most recently, he has served as country director for actor Sean Penn's post-earthquake organization in Haiti. Krause landed in Haiti after a dozen years of mostly international service work that began with a high school-led trip to the Dominican Republic. He repeated the trip his senior year of high school and continued service work on summer service trips to Central and South America as an undergraduate student studying Spanish and philosophy at Xavier. His dedication and work ethic stood out at a young age, as Krause received the Francis J. Finn, S.J., Award his senior year at Xavier. For exemplifying the Jesuit ideals of enhancing the humanity of the poor, improving the world through education and being a man for others, Xavier University is proud to present Benjamin Krause with the 2012 Magis Award.
Thomas H. Siemers will receive Xavier’s Distinguished Alumnus Award at the undergraduate ceremony. As a community banker for sixty-two years, Thomas H. Siemers championed entrepreneurs, small businesses, individuals and families. He is the retired chairman, president and CEO of First Franklin Corporation and its subsidiary, Franklin Savings. He joined Franklin Savings in 1948 and became its president in 1968. He retired from First Franklin Corporation in 2010 and Franklin Savings in 2006. His efforts helped reap a fruitful harvest of success stories. While helping people launch and expand businesses, buy homes and pay for college educations, Siemers also gave his time, talent and treasure to numerous community and charitable organizations, including his two-time alma mater, Xavier University. In recognition of his outstanding service to the University and society, and his commitment to Jesuit values, Xavier University is honored to present Thomas H. Siemers with its Distinguished Alumnus Award.
The John A. Elet, S.J. Scholar award is named after Xavier’s first president and recognizes a student for academic and service excellence. This year’s honor goes to Ashley Freeland, 22, of Loveland, OH (45140), graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science and minors in gender and diversity studies and peace studies.
Xavier’s graduate commencement speaker will be David Hellkamp, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Xavier. He and his wife, retired administrator, Susan Wideman will both receive the Paul O’Connor Leadership Award at the undergraduate ceremony.
Among the many leadership positions David T. Hellkamp held during his forty-four years as a Xavier faculty member, his legacy is most closely associated with his role in setting the foundation for the doctoral program in psychology. He was a clinical psychologist in private practice for years, helping individuals and organizations better understand their difficulties and working to improve their functionality. He also has consulted with many police agencies, including Cincinnati’s, and court systems, as well as educational and sports organizations. His consulting work took him across the world to the Baltic states in the former USSR. He worked as a consultant for the Jesuit schools in Lithuania, facilitating a strategic planning process for the school in Kaunas from 1996 through 2001. In recognition of his years of dedication to Xavier University and its mission, as well as his lifetime of professional achievements in the field of psychology, Xavier University is proud to present David T. Hellkamp with the Paul L. O’Connor, S.J., Leadership Award.
Susan Wideman left an indelible mark on Xavier. Under her leadership, the Center for Adult and Part-Time Students and the University’s Weekend Degree Program were created and summer session significantly expanded. As one of the few female administrators on campus in the 1980s, Wideman understood the needs of non-traditional undergraduate students, the majority of whom were women. She encouraged her staff to give students personal attention and encouraged the University to maintain the less expensive cost-per-credit hour option for non-traditional undergraduate students. During her career at Xavier, Wideman personally served as academic adviser to more than 9,000 students. In recognition of her twenty-six years of dedication to Xavier University and its mission, as well as her wisdom, leadership and tireless work in developing the academic lives of non-traditional undergraduate students, Xavier University is proud to present Susan Wideman with the Paul L. O’Connor, S.J., Leadership Award.
Seven Xavier alumni will return to participate as Golden Grads, celebrating the 50th anniversary of their graduation in 1962.
(40242) Robert G. Meyer, PhD of Louisville, KY earned a BS in Psychology
(41017) Bruce Alan Barton of Villa Hills, KY earned a BS in Psychology
(44095) Fred Haas of Eastlake, OH earned a BS in Business
(45013) C. Herbert Schmidt of Hamilton, OH earned a BS in Business
(45211) K. Richard Isfort of Cincinnati earned a BS in Business
(45223) David Hellkamp of Cincinnati earned a BS and an MA (also receiving a University honor – above)
(45237) Stan Vollman of Cincinnati earned a BS in Business
What’s New This Year
For the first time, Xavier will live stream both the undergraduate and graduate Commencement ceremonies so that relatives who cannot come to Cincinnati can watch. Go to http://www.xavier.edu/commencement. Up until the day of Commencement, the site will display basic Commencement information. On May 12, Xavier will flip the Commencement home page to the live stream / social media home page. The Twitter hashtag #xugrad12 will be used to share Commencement photos, videos and messages, which will be displayed on the Commencement website, below the live stream of the event.
A “Commencement Annex” will be provided by Xavier as a viewing or break location for guests of both ceremonies. It will be located on level three of Xavier’s Schiff Family Conference Center within the Cintas Center. There will be a small play area for small children who get restless during the ceremony. The commencement will be simulcast in the room so parents will not miss anything. The location also provides easy access for those who have difficulty managing arena stairs. This will allow parents with small children who are getting wiggly to let them stretch out and color. It will also be available after the ceremony for graduates and guests to gather for photos.
Xavier University is a private university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, providing a liberal arts education in the Catholic, Jesuit tradition. Founded in 1831, the University is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. U.S. News & World Report ranks it No. 4 among master’s-level universities in the Midwest, and The Princeton Review names it as one of the “Best 376 Colleges in America.”
Jason Furtick, Bronx, NY: Appeared on the Oprah show twice – first at 10 years old and again at age 20. It wasn’t just Jason, though. All four of his brothers were with him. The Furtick quadruplets were born in 1990, without the use of fertility drugs – a one in eleven million chance. They appeared in ads for Wendy’s, Levi’s Jeans, and Nationwide Insurance. Jason’s three brothers are still in New York, and while he admits it was sometimes lonely without them, he said he needed to create an identity for himself. Jason will graduate with a degree in Organizational Communication.
The first class of students with a major in Environmental Science will walk this May. “The program was first offered in the fall semester of 2010,” says Brent Blair, associate professor of biology. “Faculty in the biology department began to see both the interest in such a program and the need for such a discipline in society. The major gives students who are interested in biology but not necessarily medicine an alternative to a strict biology degree.” Environmental science is the interdisciplinary study of the impact of human systems on our natural environment and how in turn these natural systems affect the human environment. It includes 3 components: strong scientific foundations, an applied portion real world experience, and knowledge of economic, political, and human social systems to get policies and technologies implemented.
The graduates are:
(18705) Joseph Carr of Plains, PA
(43207) Shanae Kincannon of Columbus, OH
(44202) Brooke Eastman of Aurora, OH
(44278) Melanie Andrews of Tallmadge, OH
(45208) Fritz Schroder of Cincinnati (graduated in December, but will walk in May; works at Cincinnati Water Works)
(45213) William Eichenberger of Cincinnati
(45238) Joseph Hetzer of Cincinnati
(60045) Liz Morrison of Lake Forest, IL
(60623) Edith Delgado of Chicago
(60641) Abigail Hamilton of Chicago
What goes into making a graduation happen?
Pat Woeste (45247) believes “Commencement is theatre.” Having directed every Xavier Commencement ceremony since 1995, no one knows better than she the thousands of minute details which go into a successful commencement ceremony. Pat has worked with two university presidents (James E. Hoff, SJ and Michael J. Graham, SJ), in two arenas (Riverfront Coliseum and Cintas Center), and with an increasing number of students. She has seen graduating numbers climb from 1,526 in 1995 to 1,834 this year. She coordinates who is in the procession, where they stand, what they wear, where they sit, who does and says what at what time, where the students gather, how they come in, where they go, how they get back to their seats, how the reader knows which person is coming up the steps, how many plants and flags are on the stage, etc. She herself earned a bachelor’s degree from Xavier in 1990, so has been a part of graduation from both sides.