Xavier's 176th commencement confers degrees on 747 undergraduate, 376 graduate students

Photos, messages and videos are being shared on the live-stream website under hashtag #xugrad14 | May 15, 2014

The 176th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 17, at the Cintas Center conferred degrees to 747 undergraduate and 376 graduate students. The undergraduate ceremony was held at 9:00 a.m. and the graduate ceremony at 3:00 p.m.

Xavier provided a live stream of both ceremonies so viewers who couldn't attend could watch at http://www.xavier.edu/xugrad14. The Twitter hashtag #xugrad14 is being used to share photos, videos and messages that are displayed on the Commencement website. A short video shared memories of the Class of 2014’s four years at Xavier.

Speaker, author and business consultant Matthew Kelly was the undergraduate commencement speaker. Kelly is the founder of The Dynamic Catholic Institute, a Cincinnati-based non-profit organization whose mission is to re-energize the Catholic Church in America. Kelly is receiving the degree of Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa.

Xavier’s graduate commencement speaker was retired Procter & Gamble Chairman, President and CEO Robert McDonald.

Among the undergraduates this year was 90-year-old Walter Bunker, a World War II veteran who received the Bachelor of Liberal Arts, cum laude. Bunker had been working on his degree since he returned from the war nearly 70 years ago. He was escorted by Ryan Hoefer, an Iraq War veteran who also received his undergraduate degree.

During the undergraduate ceremony, 2002 graduate Debra Homan Eschmeyer was honored with Xavier’s Magis Award, which recognizes a Xavier graduate who embodies Jesuit morals and ethics and has achieved a high degree of excellence. Eschmeyer, who grew up on a dairy farm in rural Ohio, merged her farming background with her dual degrees in marketing and international affairs and co-founded FoodCorps, a nationwide organization that connects children with real food.

Charles Gallagher, a 1960 economics graduate, received Xavier’s Leadership Medallion at the undergraduate ceremony. Gallagher founded the private equity firm, Gallagher Enterprises, and has managed more than 20 middle-market mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, saving companies and creating jobs. Gallagher also spent 20 years on the Xavier University Board of Trustees and is the namesake of the Gallagher Student Center and the primary funder of the Conaton Learning Commons. Gallagher also sponsored the Pacesetter Program which provides scholarships for inner-city students from St. Martin de Porres and Central Catholic High School in Toledo to attend Xavier.

Graduating senior Michael Petrany of Huntington, W.Va., received the John A. Elet, S.J., Scholar award, named after Xavier’s first president and recognizing a student for academic and service excellence. Petrany has a 4.0 average and received a BA in Philosophy and a BS in Biology, with minors in German and Chemistry. Petrany has accepted the inaugural Jeffrey A. Whitsett Fellowship through the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Molecular & Developmental Biology Program, which funds study in the Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. ‬

This year, the Paul O’Connor Leadership Award was awarded to Sr. Rose Ann Fleming, SND de N, for her work in support of the academic achievements of student-athletes. Fleming founded and still manages the Student-Athlete Academic Support Services program. Since she started the program in 1985, every men’s basketball player who has reached his final year of athletic eligibility has graduated, and the graduation success rate of all Xavier student-athletes is 97%—12th best in the nation.

The phenomenal success rate of her efforts has brought national recognition for both her and Xavier. She has been profiled in The New York Times, Washington Post, ABC News, NBC News and Fox Sports among many others. She was named the Most Valuable Player on the men’s basketball team in 1991 and was inducted into Xavier’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 2000. At the age of 81, she still travels with the team.