Xavier University’s 171st commencement ceremonies were held on Saturday, May 16, at the Cintas Center on campus. Xavier awarded 833 undergraduate diplomas to the Class of 2009 during a ceremony beginning at 9:00 a.m., and 953 graduate diplomas were awarded at a ceremony beginning at 2:00 p.m. Two ceremonies were held to accommodate the large number of graduates and their families. This included all students who have graduated during the last academic year. The largest number of undergraduate majors this year was business administration followed by liberal arts and nursing.
A Baccalaureate Mass was held prior to commencement on Friday, May 15, at 8:00 p.m. at the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral in downtown Cincinnati.
James Morris, former executive director for the United Nations World Food Programme, was the undergraduate commencement speaker. He also was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa. Morris is the president of Pacers Sports and Entertainment in Indianapolis and holds an Undersecretary General rank within the UN. He received his Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University and MBA from Butler University. As executive director for the World Food Programme, he has traveled to most of the 80 countries where it operates, meeting with government dignitaries and NGO partners to discuss ways of reducing hunger in both the developing and developed world.
Xavier’s graduate commencement speaker was Abie Ingber, founding director of the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement at Xavier. Following a 30-year career as the executive director and senior Rabbi at the University of Cincinnati’s Hillel Chapter, Ingber became the founding director of the Office of Interfaith Community Engagement, which works to strengthen students in their spiritual journeys and introduce them to new models of dialogue and community engagement.
During the undergraduate ceremony, Stan Hedeen, professor emeritus of biology, was awarded the Paul L. O’Connor Leadership Award for his dedication to his students and the University’s Catholic, Jesuit mission and his unreserved commitment to the University’s ideals. He has published numerous scholarly articles and is the author of several books, often drawing attention to the pollution and ecological degradation in and around Cincinnati’s Mill Creek. His environmental work began drawing attention in 1976, when he received the Environmental Quality Award from the federal EPA. In 2001, he was awarded the DAR National Conservation Medal in 2001.
Other award winners include: Bob Conway, Class of 1949, who was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award in recognition of his passionate committment to Xavier University’s mission and ministry; Angela U. Staubach, Class of 2001, who received Xavier’s Magis Award in recognition of selfless dedication to the Jesuit ideal of being a woman for others, her commitment to helping those who are most in need and her efforts to effect positive change both locally and internationally; and Shaye Worthman, 22, who as the top graduating senior was honored as the John A. Elet, S.J., Scholar for academic and service excellence. Worthman is graduating with a double major in psychology and Spanish and a double minor in gender and diversity studies and Latin American studies. This is the award formerly known as the valedictorian.