Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Graduation speakers announced

Two University of Wisconsin alumni have been chosen to give
graduating UW students advice to carry into the future at spring commencement
the weekend of May 17 and 18.

UW senior class officers selected Wisconsin Supreme Court
Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson and founder of USA Networks Kay Koplovitz to
address 2008 graduates.

“I think they offer a perspective of ‘where do we go
from here,'” said Senior Class Secretary Stephanie Biese. “I think
that a lot of us feel like we’re not ready and some know we’re ready, but we
all sort of feel like ‘where do we go now?'”


According to UW commencement coordinator Joe Farrenkopf, the
senior class officers met in the fall and came up with a roster of names of
people they would like to see speak at commencement, and the final speakers
were chosen from there, based on availability.

Biese said the senior class officers chose alumni who were
accomplished, recognizable and compelling.

“Being fellow UW graduates, they’ve had quite a set of
accomplishments during their careers that the senior class officers felt were
worth sharing,” Farrenkopf said.

Abrahamson, a former UW law professor, earned a doctor in
juridical science degree from the UW Law School and is the first woman to serve
as the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

Koplovitz helped co-found two organizations supporting women
as venture capitalists, is the CEO of Koplovitz and Co., serves as chair of the
board of Liz Claiborne Inc. and was the first woman president of a television

Abrahamson will speak to graduates during the Saturday
ceremonies, and Koplovitz will address students earning degrees in the College
of Letters and Science at Sunday’s ceremonies.

Friday night’s ceremony for doctoral and professional
graduates will not feature a speaker because two prominent alumni will be
receiving honorary degrees.

John W. Rowe, a 1967 UW graduate, will be awarded the
honorary Doctor of Humane Letters and Science degree and John E. Ahern, an
economics graduate from UW, will be awarded the honorary Doctor of Science

“These honorary degrees are reserved for truly
outstanding individuals,” said Kate Dixon, spokesperson for the Wisconsin
Alumni Association.

Rowe, who has received the Distinguished Alumni award from
WAA, is the president and CEO of Exelon Corporation, an electric utilities
company that Forbes ranked No. 1 on its “Best Managed Companies in
America” list in 2005, according to a UW statement.

Rowe created and co-financed the Rowe-Clark Math and Science
Academy, a Chicago Public School emphasizing the importance of math and science
education in diverse populations, the statement said.

In addition, Rowe’s volunteer work to advance the
opportunities of the underprivileged is an important aspect of his success,
said David Musolf, member of the Faculty Senate Committee on Honorary Degrees.

Ahern is the chairman for J. F. Ahern, a Midwest contracting
company and has been involved in the industry since 1959.

“Ahern used his business to provide educational
experiences for the industry,” Musolf said. “He has gone far and
above what most people would do.”

In order to be considered for an honorary degree, the
recipients must be nominated from UW academic departments to the Committee on
Honorary Degrees. They are then recommended to UW Chancellor John Wiley, the UW
Board of Regents and the Faculty Senate for final approval.

The committee “typically awards an honorary degree in
recognition of a career of extraordinary accomplishment,” Musolf said.
“It is not given to celebrate a deed alone or upon the simple meeting of a
set of minimum standards.”

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