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Creighton Honors Graduates, Community Leaders, Organizations, Haiti Volunteers at May Commencement

Creighton Honors Graduates, Community Leaders, Organizations, Haiti Volunteers at May Commencement

Creighton University will honor more than 1,300 graduates at commencement ceremonies Saturday, May 15, at the Qwest Center Omaha. The University will also recognize community volunteers Mary and Charles Heider, the Boy Scouts of America, the Sisters of Mercy, a faculty member, and health care volunteers who treated victims of Haiti’s Jan. 12 earthquake.

The undergraduate schools, School of Law and Graduate School ceremony will begin at 9:30 a.m. The ceremony for Health Sciences professional schools, including the schools 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. A baccalaureate Mass will be held Friday, May 14, at 3 p.m. in the D.J. Sokol Arena at the Wayne and Eileen Ryan Athletic Center on campus.

Special awards and recognition will go to community leaders and organizations that have made significant positive differences in the Omaha community.

The Mid-America Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Sisters of Mercy will receive Presidential Medallions that coincide with their centennial observances.

For 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has instilled values of character, citizenship and leadership in area youth. The Mid-America Council includes more than 500 communities in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota, involving 33,000 scouts and nearly 10,000 volunteer leaders. The group will be recognized for their on-going contributions, as well as its bearing and deportment in the face of disaster following a 2008 tornado at the Little Sioux Ranch in Little Sioux, Iowa. Receiving the award will be Lloyd Roitstein, president and scout executive of BSA Mid-America Council.

Also in 1910, the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas established St. Catherine’s Hospital in the Forest Hill district of Omaha; it was the first hospital in the city to accept maternity patients. St. Catherine’s School of Nursing later became affiliated with Creighton University. The Sisters of Mercy will be represented by Sister Norita Cooney, president of the Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Community.

Philanthropic and community leaders Charles and Mary Heider will each receive the honorary doctor of humane letters, for leadership in civic organizations as well as their ongoing support and investment in higher education and cancer research. The Heiders have endowed two chairs at Creighton, one for Jesuit faculty and one in the School of Medicine that has received international recognition for advances in cancer research.

Charles Heider, a graduate of the Creighton College of Business, served on the University’s board of directors for 17 years. He was inducted into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame in 2005. Mary Heider attended Duchesne College in Omaha and later served on the board of the Duchesne College Alumni Association.

The couple is very active in numerous community organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of Omaha, the National Conference for Community and Justice, the American Red Cross, Bergan Mercy Medical Center, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Jesuit Middle School of Omaha, Boys Town, Stephen Center and Christ Child Center, among others.

Creighton will also present its Magis award – a Latin term meaning “the more” – to Creighton-led health care teams that traveled to Jimani, Dominican Republic, to treat victims of the Haiti earthquake. Over three weeks, five teams rotated into Jimani, providing medical supplies and lifesaving medical services

Accepting the award will be Charles Filipi, M.D., a Creighton University professor of surgery who coordinated the teams from Omaha, and Brian Loggie, M.D., chief of surgical oncology and Creighton’s Harold J. Bonnstetter Endowed Chair in Preventative Medicine. Loggie led the first health care team. Filipi will deliver the morning commencement address, and Loggie will speak at the afternoon ceremony.

Victoria Roche, Ph.D. of the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions will receive the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Teaching Achievement. The award was established by Creighton University students 40 years ago, and students select the recipient.

Roche is a researcher, instructor of pharmaceutical science, assistant dean and faculty adviser to the pharmacy honor society. Roche also teaches courses in Native American culture and health with an emphasis on service-learning and reflective writing pedagogy. Creighton students described her as a distinguished educator who embraces the Jesuit value of service that is a Creighton hallmark.

The Spirit of Creighton Award will also be awarded; the names of the recipients are kept secret until the ceremony. The award is given annually to one or more graduates who demonstrate the best qualities of the University’s founders. Recipients are honored for their initiative, enterprise, academic achievement and outstanding character traits.

A complete schedule of activities and other details is available at

Webcast liv:

Both ceremonies will be webcast live, beginning approximately 10 minutes before the beginning of each event at Viewers will need to have Windows Media Player for XP or Vista. Flip4Mac is available for the Mac platform.

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