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Creighton Commencement Celebrates Achievements

Creighton University’s May commencement ceremonies will include the conferring of more than 1,600 degrees and recognition of individuals and organizations that make a difference in the community. The ceremonies will take place Saturday, May 17, at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

The ceremony for Creighton’s health sciences schools and colleges, including dentistry, nursing, medicine, pharmacy and health professions, is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. The ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences, Heider College of Business, the College of Professional Studies, Emergency Medical Services, the School of Law and the Graduate School, will begin at 1 p.m. University President Timothy R. Lannon, S.J., will preside at both ceremonies. The baccalaureate Mass will be Friday, May 16, at 1 p.m. in the Kiewit Fitness Center on the Creighton campus.

William A. Fitzgerald, BSBA’59, Omaha businessman and chair emeritus of the Creighton University Board of Trustees, will be honored in the afternoon ceremony with the 2014 Alumni Achievement Citation, the highest award given to an alumnus or alumna. Fitzgerald will be recognized for the significant impact he has had on Creighton in his 41 years as a board member and 53 years as an alumnus.

Fitzgerald began his career at Commercial Federal Bank in 1952 while still a student at Creighton, retiring as chairman and chief executive officer in 2005. He was inducted into both the Nebraska Business Hall of Fame and the Omaha Business Hall of Fame. Elected to the Creighton University Board of Directors in 1973, he served as chair for 12 years, serving on nearly every committee, including the Academic Affairs and Health Affairs Committees. He earned a business degree from Creighton in 1959.

Fitzgerald and his wife, Barb, are longtime philanthropic supporters of the University, contributing to scholarships, campus expansion, student life and athletics. Fitzgerald also has lent his considerable talents to more than 28 educational, civic, philanthropic, cultural and religious boards throughout the Omaha community including United Way of the Midlands, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce and Knights of Aksarben.

The Fitzgeralds received the Wisconsin Province of the Society of Jesus Ignatian Leadership Award from the Jesuit Council of Omaha and Mr. Fitzgerald also received the National Conference of Christians and Jews Humanitarian Award.

Receiving the Presidential Medallion at the morning ceremony will be the Lasting Hope Recovery Center, a residential and treatment facility for those with behavioral health problems. The center provides an integrated team of experts who create a road to recovery for those with mental illnesses by instilling within them hope, a sense of possibility and the tools to rebuild a positive self-image. One in four families in Nebraska is affected by mental health issues.

 Lasting Hope Recovery Center offers a range of treatment and prevention services to meet the growing needs of patients in crisis in the Omaha community. Philanthropist and business leader Ken Stinson and his wife Ann and Rhonda and Howard Hawks, of the Hawks Foundation, were instrumental in making the care facility a reality. Accepting the award at the morning ceremony will be Sheree L. Keely, LCSW, vice president for Behavioral Services at Alegent Creighton Health.

The Creighton Students Union Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for Teaching Achievement will be presented in the morning ceremony to Thomas E. Pisarri, Ph.D., assistant professor of biomedical science in the School of Medicine. A faculty member since 1993, he has taught more than 20 courses in physiology and has served on more than 40 University committees and task forces. According to student nominators, Pisarri inspires them to do more than just read a textbook or listen to a lecture—but to also apply learning and critical thinking in and out of the classroom.

Pisarri has served as a member of the editorial boards for the Medical Science Educator and Journal of Applied Physiology and Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, and has reviewed submissions for nearly a dozen other academic journals. He is an active researcher, collaborating with clinicians and others in the community while mentoring students.