Commencement  
 

Past Commencement Speakers and Honorary Degree Recipients

 
Year Name/Title Degree
2013

Peter Perez, President of Carter Products, Inc.
Commencement Speaker

N/A

2013 Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley

Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids

Honorary Doctor of Theology
2013

Ellen Satterlee
CEO, Wege Foundation

Honorary Doctor of Public Service
2012 Fred P. Keller, Jr.
Commencement Speaker
N/A
2012 Marilyn Drake '75
Aquinas Trustee Emerita
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
2012 Sister Marjorie Vangsness, O.P., '38
**Special 125th Anniversary Honorary Degree
Honorary Doctor of Divinity
2012 R. Paul Nelson
President Emeritus
**Special 125th Anniversary Honorary Degree
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2012 Harry J. Knopke, Ph.D.
President Emeritus
**Special 125th Anniversary Honorary Degree
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2012 C. Edward Balog, Ph.D.
President Emeritus
**Special 125th Anniversary Honorary Degree
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2011

Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC

President, University of Notre Dame

Commencement Speaker

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2011

Denise Christy '82

Businesswoman

Honorary Doctor of Business

2011

Peter Sturrus '77

Philanthropist

Honorary Doctor of Science

2011

Darrell (Ted) Thompson '52

Philanthropist

Honorary Doctor of Science

2011

Sister Jean Milhaupt, O.P., Ph.D. '45

**Special 125th Anniversary Honorary Degree

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

 

2011

Lyle Morrison

Aquinas Trustee Emeritus

**Special 125th Anniversary Honorary Degree

Honorary Doctor of Business
2010

David Van Andel

Chairman and CEO of the Van Andel Institute
Commencement Speaker

Honorary Doctor of Science
2010

Rosemary Zant '58

Philanthropist

Honorary Doctor of Public Service
2010

Greg Alksnis '71

Aquinas Trustee Emeritus

Honorary Doctor of Business
2009 Richard Norton Smith
Author, Political Speechwriter, and Historian
Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2009 Alan Ryan
Aquinas Trustee Emeritus
Honorary Doctor of Public Service
2008 Mr. Martin J. Allen, Jr.
Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation and Trustee Emeritus of Aquinas College Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Public Service
2008 Honorable Glenn Steil
Businessman and Former State Senator
Honorary Doctor of Laws
2008 Sr. Mary Aquinas Weber, O.P. '58
Chancellor Emerita of Aquinas College
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2007 Gary Eberle, M.A.
Professor of English, Chair of English Department
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
2007 Bert R. Bleke
Former Superintendent of the Grand Rapids Public Schools
Honorary Doctor of Education
2007 Kathleen Keller Muir
Retired Forest Hills Public Schools Teacher
Honorary Doctor of Public Service
2007 Mary Alice Williams
Former President and CEO of Arbor Circle and Interim Director of Aquinas College Advancement Operations
Honorary Doctor of Public Service
2006 Brian Williams, '69
Sports Commentator, Canadian Broadcasting Company
Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2006 Hon. Clement Chiwaya, M.P. '02
Representative in Parliament, Malawi
Honorary Doctor of Social Sciences
2006 Jorge Luis Acevedo Vargas
Director, Aquinas College Costa Rica Program
Honorary Doctor of Fine Art
2006 Sister Amata Fabbro, O.P. '61
Aquinas College Professor Emerita of Theology
Honorary Doctor of Divinity
2005 Bruce Cole, Ph.D.
Eighth Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities
Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2005 Mary Ann Keeler
Local patron of the arts, Aquinas friend
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
2005 Fred and Lena Meijer
Celebrating 10th anniversary of Frederick Meijer Gardens, retailers, cultural advocates and philanthropists
Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts
2005 Edward (Ned) M. Smith, '61
Aquinas Trustee Emeritus
Honorary Doctor of Laws
2004 Rev. Edward A. "Monk" Malloy
President of the University of Notre Dame
Commencement Speaker
Honorary Doctor of Divinity
2004 Diet Eman
Holocaust Survivor, Author and Lecturer
Honorary Doctor of Social Science
2004 Most Reverent Robert J. Rose
Bishop Emeritus Diocese of Grand Rapids
Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters
2003 Roger Wilkins
Former Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Activist,
Clarence J. Robinson Professor of History and American Culture at George Mason University
Commencement Speaker
(Was not able to speak due to a death in the family)
LL.D. (D. Laws)
2003 John Canepa
Retired CEO/President, Old Kent Bank Financial Corp.
D.B.A. (D. Business Administration)
2003 Kay Donnelly, Community and Civic Activist LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
2002 David Mathews, Ph.D.
President/CEO, Kettering Foundation
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
2002 Mary Caroline "Twink" Frey
Founder, Nokomis Foundation & Community Activist
D.S.Sc. (D. Social Science)
2002 Ella Sims
Community and Human Rights Activist
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
2001 J. Bryan Hehir, Th.D.
Professor of the Practice in Religion and Society and Chairman of the Executive Committee Harvard Divinity School
Commencement Speaker
D.D. (D. Divinity)
 2001 Kenneth Marin
Professor of Economics, Aquinas College
D.S.Sc. (D. Social Science)
 2001 Lisel Mueller
Poet and Author
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
 2001 Sue William Silverman
Assoc. Editor, Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, Author and Professional Speaker on Abuse
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
2000 E. Culpepper Clark, Ph.D., Dean
College of Communication and Information Sciences
The University of Alabama Commencement Speaker
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
 2000 Clare Jarecki
Business Visionary, Community Leader & Philanthropist
Sc.D. (D. Sciences)
 2000 Rupert Kettle
Musician, Composer and Professor of Music Aquinas College
D.F.A. (D. Fine Arts)
 2000 Sr. Sue Mosteller, C.S.J.
Author & Dir., L'Arche Community of Daybreak
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
 1999 Patricia Newby, Ed.D.
Supt., Grand Rapids Public Schools
Commencement Speaker
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
1999 Ralph B. Baldwin, Ph.D.
Retired Exec. /Owner - Machinery Corp.
Sc.D. (D. Sciences)
 1999 Harry J. Cargas, Ph.D. `57
Scholar, Alumnus
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
 1999 Kate Pew Wolters `78
Chair, Kate & Richard Wolters Foundation, Alumna
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1998 Jerome C. Byrne, J.D. `48
Attorney, Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher, Los Angeles
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
 1998 Diana R. Sieger, M.S.W.
President, Grand Rapids Foundation
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
 1998 Norbert J. Hruby, M.A., Ph.D.
President Emeritus, Aquinas College
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1997 Bishop Kenneth E. Untener
Saginaw Archdiocese
Commencement Speaker
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
 1997 Jonathan Bradford
Exec. Dir., Inner City Christian Federation
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
 1997 John P. Lacks
President/CEO Lacks Enterprises
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1997 Sr. Maurita Sengelaub, R.S.M.
Nurse, Educator, Health Care Administrator
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1996 The Honorable Dennis W. Archer
Mayor of Detroit
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
 1996 Sr. Marie Michael Jacobs, O.P.
Principal, St. Andrew's School
Ed.D. (D. Education)
 1996 Eugene Proctor
Exec. Dir., Baxter Community Center
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
 1996 Robert Woodrick
Chairman, D & W Food Centers
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1995 Sr. Jean Milhaupt, O.P., Ph.D.
Professor of English, Aquinas College Archivist
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1995 Emajean "Pat" Cook
Civic Humanitarian
Trustee, Aquinas College Board
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
 1995 Ralph W. Hauenstein
Owner, Werner Lahara, Inc.
Trustee, Aquinas College Board
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
 1994 Max DePree
Director, Donnelly Mirrors, Inc.
Trustee, Aquinas College Board
Commencement Speaker
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1994 Hyman "Hy" Berkowitz
President/Owner, Rogers Department Stores
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
1993 Paula A. Banks
President/Exec. Dir., Sears-Roebuck Foundation
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1993 Ralph J. Bennett, Ph.D.
Professor of Accounting and Economics
Aquinas College
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
1993 Patrick M. Quinn `58
Chairman, Aquinas College Board of Trustees
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
1992 Patrick M. Quinn `58
President/C.E.O., Spartan Stores
Chairperson, Aquinas College Board of Trustees
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1991 Paul A. Pearson, Ph.D.
Dir., Corporate Training and Development-Steelcase
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1990 Richard M. Gillett
Ret. Chair. - Old Kent Financial Corporation
Commencement Speaker
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1989 Robert C. Pew
Chairman, Steelcase
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1988 Martin E. Marty, Ph.D.
Professor, University of Chicago
Commencement Speaker
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
 1987 Rabbi Albert M. Lewis, Ph.D.
Temple Emanuel
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1987 The Most Reverend Thomas J. Gumbleton
Auxiliary Bishop, Detroit Diocese
LL.D. (D. Laws)
 1986 Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.
President, University of Notre Dame
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1986 The Most Rev. Joseph M. Breitenbeck
Bishop, Diocese of Grand Rapids
LL.D. (D. Laws)
 1986 Raymond E. Knape
President, Knape and Vogt Manufacturing Co.
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1985 Lillian Troll, Ph.D.
Author, Professor of Psychology
Rutgers University
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1985 Helen J. Claytor
Former National President, YWCA
Michigan Hall of Fame
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
 1985 Robert C. Pew
Chairman/CEO, Steelcase, Inc.
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
 1985 Richard Reibel
President/CEO, Foremost Insurance
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
1984 Rev. Cletus Wessels, O.P.
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1984 Wilferd A. Petersen
Author
LH. D. (D. Humane Letters)
 1984 Marie Mylan
V-P, Cooperative Church Supply Company Minneapolis, Minnesota
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1983 Stanley J. Idzerda, Ph.D.
President, College of Saint Benedict
Saint Joseph, Minnesota
LH. D. (D. Humane Letters)
1982 John Fenlon Donnelly
Chairman, Donnelly Mirror, Inc., Holland, Michigan
Chairman, Board of Trustees, Aquinas College
Commencement Speaker
H.H.D. (D. Humanities)
1981 Msgr. George C. Higgins
Catholic University of America
Director, Social Action Committee, NCWC
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1980 Samuel B. Gould, Ph.D.
Former Chancellor, State University of New York
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1979 Pauline Frederick
National Public Radio
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1978 Roger Remington, M.A., Ph.D.
Professor of History, Aquinas College
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1977 Kenneth J. Marin, M.A.
Associate Professor of Economics, Aquinas College
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1976 Lee A. Jacokes, M.A., Ph.D
Director of Records and Research, Aquinas College
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1976 Rose Ellen Watson
Aquinas Benefactor, Saginaw
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1976 The Honorable John A. Collins
Mayor, East Grand Rapids
LL.D. (D. Laws)
 1976 The Honorable Thomas F. McAllister
Chief Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
Judge, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
LH.D. (D. Humane Letters)
1975 Sr. Theresa Houlihan, O.P., Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Aquinas College
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
 1974 U.S. Rep. Shirley A. Chisholm
12th District - New York
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1974 William Spoelhof, Ph.D.
President, Calvin College
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
1973 Patricia Harris
Washington Attorney
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1972 The Honorable Rev. Robert F. Drinan, S.J.
U.S. Representative, Massachusetts
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1971 Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.
Historian, Professor
City University of New York
Commencement Speaker
Lit. D. (D. Literature)
1970 The Honorable Stuart L. Udall
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1969 Monsignor Arthur F. Bukowski, M.A.
President, Aquinas College (1937-1969)
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1969 Norman Cousins
Editor, Sunday Review
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1968 Margaret Mealy
Exec. Dir., National Council of Catholic Women
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1968 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Posthumous)
Civil Rights Leader
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1967 Most Rev. John Joseph Wright, D.D.
Bishop, Diocese of Pittsburgh, PA
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1967 Sr. Jane Marie Murray, O.P.
Teacher, Author, Lecturer
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1966 The Honorable Otis M. Smith
Justice, Michigan Supreme Court
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1965 U.S. Senator Philip A. Hart
Michigan
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1965 Mother Mary Victor Flannery, O.P.
Reverend Mother General, Dominican Sisters
Congregation of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1965 U.S. Rep. Gerald R. Ford
Michigan (Fifth District)
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1964 William R. McAndrew, A.B.
Exec. V-P, NBC News
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1963 Thomas T. Murphy, M.C.S.
Acting Dean, College of Business Administration
University of Notre Dame
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1963 Raymond Francis Knape
Account Executive / Partner, Seidman & Seidman
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1963 Rev. Charles Pius Wilson, O.P.
Chaplain, Dominican Sisters
Congregation of Our Lady of Sacred Heart
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1963 Charles Arthur Woodhouse
V-P, Union Bank and Trust Co.
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1962 Most Rev. Thomas Lawrence Noa, D.D.
Bishop, Diocese of Marquette, Michigan
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1962 James Lawrence McInerney, K.S.G. LL.D. (D. Laws)
1962 Sr. Mary Honora Jack, I.H.M.
President, Marygrove College, Detroit
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1961 John Cornelius Hayes, J.D.
Dean, School of Law, Loyola University, Chicago
Commencement Speaker
Litt.D. (D. Letters)
1961 Sr. Mary Xavier Kinney, R.S.M.
Director, Mercy Central School of Nursing
Grand Rapids, Michigan
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1960 Albert Roy Beatty
Asst. V-P, Association of American Railroads
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1960 Right Rev. Msgr. Raymond H. Baker, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Vica General, Diocese of Grand Rapids
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1960 Simon Danker Den Uyl
Chairman, Bohn Aluminum and Brass Corp., Detroit
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1959 The Honorable G. Mennen Williams
Governor of Michigan
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1959 Right Rev. Monsignor William J. Murphy
Supt. of Schools, Diocese of Grand Rapids
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1959 Peter Melvin Wege
Industrial Executive, Philanthropist
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1958 John A. Oesterle, Ph.D.
Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1957 Right Rev. Patrick J. Ryan, S.T.B., A.B., LL.D.
Major General, Chief of Chaplains, U.S.A.
Commencement Speaker
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1957 Most Rev. Allen James Babcock, D.D., LL.D.
Bishop, Diocese of Grand Rapids
LL.D. (D. Laws)
 1957 Very Rev. William D. Marin, O.P., S.T.D.
Prior Provincial, Province of St. Joseph
LL.D. (D. Laws)
1956 George N. Shuster, Ph.D.
President, Hunter College
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1955 Riley Hughes
Professor of English
School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1954 George B. Harrison
Professor of English, University of Michigan
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1953 Francis J. O'Malley
Professor of English, University of Notre Dame
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1952 Edward A. McDonnell
Managing Editor, The Michigan Catholic
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1951 Noel P. Fox, Attorney
Chair, Michigan Labor Mediation Board
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1950 The Reverend Leo A. Pursley, Pastor
St. John Baptist Church, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1949 The Reverend B. U. Fay, O.P., Ph.L.
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1948 The Very Reverend Vincent J. Flynn, Ph.D.
President, St. Thomas College, St. Paul, Minn.
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1947 The Most Reverend Thomas L. Noa, D.D.
Coadjutor Bishop, Sioux City, Iowa
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1946 The Right Reverend Monsignor Felix J. Vogt, V.F.
Pastor, St. Mary's Cathedral, Saginaw
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1945 The Reverend Ligouri Nugent, C.Ss. R.
Glenview, Illinois
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1944 Thomas G. Roach, Attorney
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1943 The Very Reverend John F. Monroe, O.P., President
Aquinas College High School, Columbus, Ohio
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree
1942 Jerome G. Kerwin, Ph.D., LL.D.
University of Chicago
Commencement Speaker
No Honorary Degree