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May 2008 Commencement

Commencement May 2008

Opera Omaha, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, Local Educator Among Honorees at Creighton University’s May Commencement

Creighton University will honor Opera Omaha, St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, Ken Bird, Ed.D, a special alumna and a faculty member during spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 10, at the Qwest Center Omaha.

The College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, School of Law and Graduate School ceremony will be at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony for Health Sciences professional schools, including the School of Nursing, will take place at 1:30 p.m. University President the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., will preside at both ceremonies and confer degrees upon nearly 1,300 students.

Baccalaureate Mass is scheduled for Friday, May 9, at 3 p.m. in the Kiewit Fitness Center on campus.

Special awards of recognition will go to people and organizations making a positive difference in the Omaha community and around the country. Opera Omaha and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church will each receive a Presidential Medallion. Karen Dolan Rauenhorst, a 1975 Nursing graduate, will receive the Alumni Achievement Citation. An honorary degree will be conferred on Ken Bird, Ed.D., superintendent of Omaha Westside School District, who will also deliver the commencement address at the morning ceremony.Walter J. Smith, J. D., a 1972 School of Law graduate, will receive that school’s Alumni Merit Award at hooding ceremonies during commencement weekend.

For more than 50 years, Opera Omaha has provided operatic masterpieces to packed houses with performances ranging from world-renowned productions to regional adaptations of the works of Willa Cather and other Midwest authors. The highly-rated opera company has also focused on community outreach with such innovations as Opera for Everyone, Opera Insights and a three-state outreach educational program to schools.

John Wehrle, director of Opera Omaha, will accept the award.

Celebrating its centennial is St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church, the gathering place for a community of faith, spirit and service. The only Greek Orthodox Byzantine style-church in the area, the edifice at 602 Park Avenue is a visible reminder on the Omaha landscape of a place where fellowship and family thrive.

Accepting the award will be Presbyter Rev. Peter J. Pappas.

Creighton will present its highest alumni award, the Alumni Achievement Citation, to Karen Dolan Rauenhorst, a 1975 graduate of Creighton’s School of Nursing. Rauenhorst exemplifies many of the ideals of Creighton University through her leadership in nursing, service to others and philanthropy. Providing nursing leadership and care for more than 20 years, she earned nursing degrees from Creighton University and a master's degree in public health from the University of Minnesota. She will receive her award at the afternoon ceremony.

Gary Michels, Ph.D., associate professor of analytical chemistry, will be presented the Creighton Students Union Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Teaching Achievement. According to his students, Dr. Michels uses innovation and real life examples to make the often difficult subject of chemistry more understandable. He also uses his chemistry knowledge beyond the classroom and is a strong advocate of Jesuit values that focus on service to others. For the past few years, he has led Creighton students in helping marginalized communities in the Dominican Republic.