SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — The surest sign of springtime in Springfield, Ohio, is activity in and around picturesque Commencement Hollow, the planned site of Wittenberg University’s 160th Commencement exercises at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 14. At that time, more than 400 graduates and three honorary degree recipients will be recognized before a large audience of family members, friends and the rest of the Wittenberg community.
With an eye toward the sky, everyone will listen for the Myers Hall bell to toll at 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and again at noon on Saturday to notify the campus that the ceremony will be held in its intended outdoor location for the first time in three years. If the bell does not ring, that will be a signal that the ceremony will be held in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation (HPER) Center, with the doors scheduled to open at noon. Guests should be seated at either venue no later than 1 p.m.
Special parking and seating have been arranged for physically disabled guests. For Commencement exercises held outdoors, physically disabled guests may enter campus before noon through the drive on North Plum Street. A Wittenberg security officer will be at the driveway entrance to give instructions for parking and seating. In the event the exercises are held indoors, physically disabled guests may be dropped off in front of the HPER Center. Because of limited space in the HPER Center, seating is at a premuim, so disabled guests may be seated with only one friend or family member.
Should the ceremony be held indoors, a video broadcast will be transmitted to Hollenbeck Hall. Guests without tickets are welcomed and encouraged to view the ceremony from any classroom in Hollenbeck Hall, including the Ness Family Auditorium. The 2005 Commencement speaker is Lois Raimondo, class of 1981, an award-winning photojournalist for National Geographic and the Washington Post. Raimondo, whose work has appeared in daily, weekly and monthly publications throughout the world, was honored on Nov. 21, 2002, as a Wittenberg Fellow. In 2003, Raimondo received Phi Beta Kappa (alumna status), and in 2001 she presented her award-winning portfolio titled “A Survival Sketchbook” as part of an English department colloquium.
Raimondo was featured in the Summer 2002 edition of Wittenberg Magazine after capturing readers’ attention with a 28-page spread in National Geographic that featured her images and words from 10 weeks on the war front in Afghanistan. She sent photographs from the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan back to the Washington Post during the U.S.-led war, which earned her a place in the “Best of the Post 2001.” Raimondo also made her mark as a Wittenberg athlete, earning letters in field hockey, basketball and lacrosse. The school record-holder in field hockey for goals scored in a game, season and career, Raimondo was inducted into the Wittenberg University Athletic Hall of Honor in 1993.
Raimondo will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters during the ceremony, in addition to two other honorary degrees conferred on Saturday. The Rev. Frederick Aigner, class of 1965, will receive a Doctor of Divinity, and Richard Zimmerman, class of 1956, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters in recognition of their professional accomplishments and dedicated service to humanity.
Aigner is president and chief executive officer of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (LSSI), a 138-year-old organization that is a statewide not-for-profit social service agency of the three Illinois synods of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Under Aigner’s guidance, LSSI has reaffirmed its vision and implemented a strategic, three-year integrated business plan and funding initiative in 2004. Previously, Aigner served as senior pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Arlington Heights, Ill., Christ the King Lutheran Church in Florissant, Mo., and Christ the Shepherd Lutheran Church in Altadena, Calif. After graduating from Wittenberg, he received a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pa., and a Doctor of Philosophy from Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Calif. He is the inaugural recipient of the Presidential Award for Distinguished Leadership from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, and he was a recipient of the 2005 Seeds of Hope Award from Wheat Ridge Ministries.
Zimmerman is currently a Washington-based freelance writer, editor and author. After earning his degree from Wittenberg, Zimmerman, a Springfield native, earned a master’s degree from the American University in Washington, D.C. and interned under a university grant with the Democratic National Committee, where he served as an associate editor of the Democratic Digest. His career included stops at the Urbana Daily Citizen, the Horvitz chain of Ohio newspapers, the Dayton Journal Herald and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers throughout the nation, and he has authored or co-authored two books with another in the works titled Plain Dealing: Ohio Politics and Journalism Viewed From the Press Gallery.
At last count, 416 degree candidates are scheduled for recognition during the Commencement ceremony, including 31 from the School of Community Education and three adult students who will receive a Master of Arts in Education. Sixteen of the degree candidates are international students and 19 are members of the University Honors program. Undergraduate degrees to be awarded are Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Music Education.
The senior class officers are President Ann Bixel, Vice President Anna Hanke, Secretary Susan Buckenmeyer and Treasurer Annie Boehm.
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