Students prepare for Commencement

The keynote speaker at Gannon University’s May Commencement ceremony will be very familiar to the university’s 728 graduates.

Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D., the university’s sixth president, will give the keynote address and will be awarded an honorary degree during the ceremony, to be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 7 at the Tullio Arena.

Garibaldi will become the first lay president of the University of Detroit Mercy, effective July 1.

Garibaldi is currently on sabbatical. Phil Kelly, D.A., is serving as Gannon’s interim president during the search process.

The May 7 graduates include 39 students receiving the doctor of physical therapy degree, 272 receiving master’s degrees, one receiving a post master’s certificate, 396 receiving bachelor’s degrees and 20 receiving associate’s degrees. Some 56 students will graduate summa cum laude, 75 magna cum laude, 58 cum laude and four with academic honors.

Including the University’s December graduates, Gannon will have a graduating class of 1,004 for the 2010-11 academic year.

Garibaldi received his undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Howard University in 1973 and his Ph.D. in educational psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1976. Since he was named president of Gannon in July 2001, the university has made significant gains in a number of key areas:

Enrollment has increased by 24 percent, from 3,401 to more than 4,200 students. The latter figure, from Fall 2009, represented Gannon’s highest number of students in 17 years.

Endowment has more than doubled under his leadership. In 2008, Garibaldi completed the largest comprehensive fund-raising campaign in Gannon’s history, raising more than $31.5 million in private gifts and nearly $40 million total.

In addition, Gannon has achieved top-tier rankings for seven consecutive years in U.S. News & World Report’s America’s Best Colleges, and also was named by the annual college guide as both a “Best Value” (or “Great School, Great Price”) institution for five years and as a “Top Up-and-Coming” school in 2009.

Garibaldi also helped Gannon secure $8 million in foundation and government grants. A Title III grant of $1.8 million led to the establishment of Gannon’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. In addition, he helped obtain a $1.1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Also at Commencement, Erie Bishop the Most Rev. Donald W. Trautman will be awarded an honorary degree to recognize his forthcoming retirement.

Everett Wensel, who will be one of the 728 graduating students, said he is amazed at how quickly his Gannon career has passed.

“It’s just been a great time here at Gannon,” the senior accounting major said.

Wensel said that he has also made some great friends during his time at the university and made memories that he will never forget. He said that he will miss his friends the most, even though will see some of them next year as a graduate student.

JACOB TARR

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