Commencement Speaker & Honorary Degree Recipients

2015 Commencement Speaker
Candace Matthews



Candace Matthews
Commencement Speaker

Regional President of the Americas for Amway


As the Americas regional president at Amway, Candace Matthews leads all operations for one of the company’s four regions, overseeing sales, marketing, customer service, and working with Amway Business Owners in North America and Latin America. She joined Amway in 2007, as chief marketing officer, where she led category marketing for beauty, nutrition and home brands; the Amway brand; digital and experiential marketing; corporate citizenship; public relations; and integrated marketing communications.

Ms. Matthews earned a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical engineering and administrative and management science from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University.

A member of the Executive Leadership Council, Ms. Matthews serves on the boards of several organizations including Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW), the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, and Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. She is a former member of the board of trustees at Carnegie Mellon University and previously served on the Stanford University Graduate School of Business Advisory Council.

Her professional background and experience have landed her on the pages of many magazines and journals including Black Enterprise, The Economist,, Glamour, and the Wall Street Journal. Matthews received the CEW Achiever Award in 2007, the Stanford Graduate School of Business Alumni Tapestry Award in 2014 and was named Black Enterprise Magazine’s Corporate Executive of the Year in 2009. She was one of Advertising Age’s “Women to Watch” in 2011 and was named one of the “20 Most Influential Women in Direct Selling” by the Direct Selling News in 2012, 2013, and 2014.

2015 Honorary Degree Recipient
Rev. Msgr. William H. Duncan



Rev. James Chelich
Pastor, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish
Honorary Doctor of Divinity


Father James Chelich was born in Gary, Indiana and earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology from The University of Notre Dame. After completing his undergraduate education he entered studies for the priesthood for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. He was ordained June 6, 1976 and has served as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish since June 1993. Father Jim earned a Master in Divinity from Saint John Provincial Seminary in Plymouth, Michigan and a Master of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of Detroit. His sabbatical studies include Byzantine and Orthodox Theology, Liturgy and Spirituality. He has written two books on the spiritual life: Life in the Holy Spirit: Beginning a Spiritual and Moral Life as a Catholic, and A Word Spoken to the Heart: Spiritual Healing and Regeneration in the Catholic Tradition.

Father Jim has maintained an active teaching ministry throughout his years of pastoral service. He holds a seat on both the Aquinas College Mission & Dominican Identity and Chapel Committees. His emphasis on his preaching, teaching and writing is the living connection between what we believe and the reality we engage in the world.  He has been a positive advocate for the Aquinas College community in numerous ways, chiefly by welcoming Aquinas students with open arms to worship and explore their faith at St. Thomas the Apostle. For many years, he has hosted weekly tea and discussions for Aquinas students who are greatly impacted by his compassion and wisdom. His continuing support of Aquinas and its student body contributes to the fruitful relationship enjoyed today.