More than 1,000 students will cross the graduation stage during Concordia's graduate and undergraduate commencement exercises, and five honorees will receive special awards.
A total of 556 graduate candidates will receive diplomas on May 18, including 108 who will earn their doctorates. The 6 p.m. graduate ceremony on Friday will be followed Saturday by a traditional baccalaureate service in the Chapel of Christ Triumphant at 10 a.m., with undergraduate commencement taking place in the at 1:30 p.m. Both commencement ceremonies will take place in the R. John Buuck Field House.
Mr. Richard W. Graber, president and chief executive officer of The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, will deliver the commencement address at both ceremonies. Graber served the United States as ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2006 to 2009 under President George W. Bush’s administration.
CUW pharmacy student Genesis Estrada, from El Paso, Texas, will deliver the graduate student address Friday, while Anne Karsten, from Waupun, Wisconsin, will present the undergraduate address Saturday. Karsten will graduate with her undergraduate and MBA degrees, thanks to Concordia’s Business Scholar program.
Five honorees will also be presented special awards during commencement weekend:
Kris Best (’93), vice president of finance at BVK, a Milwaukee-based advertising and marketing agency, will receive Concordia’s Distinguished Alumna award, given each year to an alumnus/alumna who has consistently demonstrated faithful stewardship of his or her talents and has rendered notable service to the Church and to the university. Best remains active with Concordia’s Batterman School of Business by guest lecturing in accounting classes and recommending student interns.
Honorary Doctor of Divinity
Rev. Allan R. Buss (’86), the newly elected president of The Northern Illinois District of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Concordia. The award is bestowed to an individual who is a member of the clergy, and who has demonstrated significant contributions in the area of leadership or service to The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. Buss maintains a deep connection with Concordia University Wisconsin. Three of his four children currently attend Concordia, and in 2016 he was appointed to the university’s board of regents.
Christo Et Ecclesiae Award
The Christo Et Ecclesiae Award is given to an individual who has demonstrated a high and unusual interest in advancing Christian education by using the talents which the Lord has endowed. Robert Schjerven, a nine-year member of the university’s Board of Regents, is the recipient of this year’s award. Schjerven is an active leader in the LCMS and at one point served on the “For the Sake of the Church” national endowment campaign. In 2007, he retired as CEO of Lennox International.
Christus in Mundo Award
The focus of the Christus in Mundo Award is to honor individuals for exemplary Christian outreach or service. This year’s recipient, Thomas Helfrich, has served as CFO and senior vice president of The Lutheran Church Extension Fund since 2008, after having started there 28 years earlier. He received bachelor’s degrees in accounting and history from McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois.
Ronald L. Berg Faculty Laureate Award
The Ronald L. Berg Faculty Laureate Award is an honor bestowed by the Concordia faculty on one of its own in recognition as the outstanding faculty member of the year. The recipient exemplifies Concordia as a way of life, is a model of Christian life, excels in teaching, engages in scholarship, and supports the community life of the campus. This year’s recipient, Dr. Carrie Jo Scheel, is chair and program director of Concordia’s Occupational Therapy Department. A department member since its inception in 1996, Scheel has played a vital role in the creation of the blended, transitional, and doctoral programs.
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