House Majority Leader John Boehner speaks at commencement

The 1977 Xavier graduate is one of four people honored on Saturday during the University's 168th commencement ceremony | May 12, 2006

U.S. Representative and House Majority Leader John Boehner, a 1977 Xavier graduate, was one of four people honored on Saturday, May 13, during the University's commencement ceremonies in the Cintas Center. Boehner spoke at the undergraduate ceremony and was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

Boehner recounted his own days at Xavier, which were spent as a commuter student attending classes at nights and working during the days to pay his way. He "drove a truck and a backhoe and mopped floors," he said, but getting his first degree six years later "was the highest achievement I could imagine at the time."

Boehner credited accountancy professor Bill Smith, with whom he was friends at the time, for encouraging him to go back to school. Smith convinced him on a Friday he had enough money to start. On Monday, Boehner went to campus to register and by Tuesday was attending his first class.

Boehner said his experience at Xavier taught him three things: "In America, you can be anything you want to be; hard work and perseverance will take you as far as you want to go-at Xavier, I learned how to use my brain, think rationally and use my heart to guide my work; and no one who succeeds in life does it alone."

Joining Boehner as honorees were:

• The Rt. Rev. Herbert Thompson Jr., retired diocesan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, who was the keynote speaker at the undergraduate ceremony. He was also being awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

• Thomas P. Kennealy, S.J., associate dean for both the College of Arts and Science and the College of Social Sciences, who was awarded the Paul L. O’Connor Leadership Award.

• Roger Fortin, Xavier's academic vice president and provost, was the graduate ceremony speaker. His history of Xavier, To See Great Wonders: A History of Xavier University 1831-2006, is being released in August. The commencement also celebrated Xavier’s 175th anniversary.

Xavier awarded 854 undergraduate diplomas and 918 graduate diplomas this year.

Two ceremonies were held this year to accommodate the large number of graduates and their families.