University celebrates 167th commencement

Keynote speakers include president emeritus of University of Detroit Mercy and co-chair for Underground Railroad Freedom Center | May 4, 2005

Xavier awarded 634 undergraduate diplomas and 352 graduate diplomas at the University's 167th commencement event, which took place on Saturday, May 14, at the Cintas Center. Due to the large number of graduates and their families, two separate ceremonies were held.

The undergraduate Class of 2005 received diplomas beginning at 9:00 a.m. while graduate degrees were awarded at 2:00 p.m. Michelle Lyman, a computer science major with a minor in math, is the University's Class of 2005 valedictorian.

Sr. Maureen A. Fay, president emeritus of the University of Detroit Mercy (UDM) was the keynote speaker at the undergraduate ceremony. Edwin Rigaud, owner of Enova Partners and co-chair of the board of directors for the Underground Railroad Freedom Center, spoke at the graduate ceremony.

Fay was the first non-Jesuit president of any Jesuit college or university in the country. She focused her attention on the growth and revitalization of UDM, Michigan's largest Catholic university. In 2004, after 21 years as a university president (first at Mercy College, then at UDM), Fay stepped down. A native of Chicago, she received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Detroit in 1966 before earning her doctorate from the University of Chicago in social sciences in 1976. Fay is active in many Detroit area community and civic organizations as well as a number of educational organizations.

Rigaud was one of the first African-American vice presidents at Procter & Gamble, where he was employed for 36 years. Rigaud started his P&G career in 1965, rising to the positions of vice president of food and beverage products and vice president of government relations for North America. In 1996, he became a P&G executive-on-loan to lead efforts to build the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a $110 million project that opened in August 2004 near the Ohio River banks in downtown Cincinnati. In 2004, Rigaud founded Enova Partners, specializing in high-end, precision engineered plastic parts and packaging components. He holds a B.S. in chemistry from Xavier University in New Orleans, a master’s in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati, an advanced management course certificate from Harvard University and four honorary doctorates. In 2003, President Bush appointed Rigaud to the National Museum and Library Services Board.

The University honored Fay and Rigaud with honorary degrees at the respective ceremonies. Xavier also awarded the leadership medallion to James King, who led WVXU to prominence during the past 29 years. Vytautas J. Bieliauskas, professor emeritus of the department of psychology credited with setting the stage for the master's program in psychology and developing the House-Tree-Person Personality Test, is received an honorary Doctor of Psychology from the University.