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Creighton Graduates Largest Class Ever, Presents Honors at May Commencement

Creighton Graduates Largest Class Ever, Presents Honors at May Commencement

Creighton University will confer degrees upon more than 1,440 students during spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 16, at Qwest Center Omaha.

The College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Administration, 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 Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, and Pharmacy and Health Professions, will take place at 1:30 p.m. University President the Rev. John P. Schlegel, S.J., will preside at both ceremonies.

The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, S.J., founder and executive director of the Homeboy Industries of Los Angeles, Calif., will give the commencement address for the morning commencement ceremony. Homeboy Industries provides at-risk and gang-involved youth with job placement, training and education. This national speaker, known for his work in the poorest areas of East Los Angeles, will also receive an honorary Doctor of Social Services degree.


Christopher J. Elias, M.D., M.P.H., will deliver the afternoon commencement address. Elias, a 1979 bachelor of science graduate and a 1983 graduate of Creighton’s School of Medicine, is the president and chief executive officer of PATH, an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of people around the world by advancing technologies, strengthening systems and encouraging healthy behaviors. He will also receive an honorary Doctor of Science degree.

Special awards of recognition will go to people and organizations making a positive difference in the Omaha community and around the country. The Society of St. Vincent de Paul/Omaha District Council and the Henry Doorly Zoo will both receive a Presidential Medallion in the morning and afternoon ceremonies, respectively.

Mike Fahey, the 49th mayor of Omaha and a 1973 Creighton graduate, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. Elizabeth Kish, head of school for Marian High School in Omaha, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters. Both degrees will be conferred at the morning ceremony.

Creighton will also present its highest alumni award, the Alumni Achievement Citation, to Donald L. Waite, who earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Creighton in 1954. For more than 50 years, Waite has pursued a highly successful business career, serving as chief financial officer at several high-technology companies. With a focus on students and education, he and his wife established the Anna Tyler Waite Center for Leadership and the Waite Scholarship Fund in Creighton’s College of Business. The Waite Center offers leadership immersion during a four-year business course of study. The couple has also established the Donald and Anna Waite Endowed Chair in Jesuit Education, which will support bringing Jesuit scholars and teachers to Creighton University. This honor will be given at the morning commencement ceremony.

Helping the poor and marginalized in the Omaha area has been the mission of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul/Omaha District Council. Celebrating its centennial, the largest lay Catholic charitable organization in the world operates retail stores and food pantries, providing food and clothing to tens of thousands each year. Joseph D. Sobczyk, Omaha district council president, will accept the award.

As one of the pre-eminent zoos in America, the 130-acre Henry Doorly Zoo features more than 17,000 specimens and has become Omaha’s number one paid attraction, bringing more than 1.3 million visitors to the city each year. The zoo is also recognized for its leadership in animal conservation, research and educational programs. Accepting the award is Lee Simmons, D.V.M., former zoo director and current chairman of the Omaha Zoo Foundation, who received an honorary degree from Creighton in 1993.

Thomas M. Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of systematic theology, will be presented the Creighton Students Union Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Teaching Achievement at the morning ceremony. According to his students, Dr. Kelly’s teaching strategy is simple: He believes the best way for students to learn is through real-world experiences. In addition to teaching courses on Catholic social teaching and Jesus Christ, he serves as campus coordinator of the Encuentro Domincano program and is a strong advocate for understanding the historical, societal and theological frameworks that affect Third World countries.

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.