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The 2016 commencement speaker and honorees

Commencement is a celebration of students, and this year it is Westminster’s 141 commencement ceremony to date. Approximately 859 students will walk across the stage robe and cap clad, 548 bachelor and 311 master degrees.

The Class of 2016 represents 37 states and 31 different countries, Ages range from 19 to 60 years old. The class is made up of 487 females and 372 males.

The top three graduating majors are nursing, psychology and followed by public health.

At this year’s commencement there are multiple honorary degree recipients, faculty awards and honoree commencement speaker. Meet the award winners and speakers in the short biographies below.

Charlayne Hunter-Gault

Charlayne Hunter-Gault was chosen as the celebrity speaker for commencement, but she will also be an honoree at the ceremony. She will be receiving the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.  

Hunter-Gault is an award-winning journalist, author and civil rights activist who was the first African-American woman to enroll and attend the University of Georgia.  

Charlayne has written four books, has been written for New York Times, NPR, PBS and CNN, and has even won a few Emmy and Peabody Awards.  

Helen Hu

Helen Hu, computer science professor, will receive the Excellence in Teaching Award of the Bill and Vieve Gore Endowment Trust.  

Hu has been teaching computer science at Westminster for 12 years. She said she loves teaching small classes and trying out new teaching approaches to improve student learning.

Christine Seifert

Christine Seifert, associate professor of communication, will be awarded the Manford A. and June Shaw Faculty Publication Prize for her two most recent books: “Virginity in Young Adult Literature After Twilight,” an academic analysis published by Scarecrow Press (Rowland & Littlefield) and “Whoppers: History’s Most Outrageous Lies and Liars,” a young adult nonfiction published by Zest (Houghlin, Mifflin, Harcourt).

Seifert has been featured on programs such as NBC Nightly News and The Today Show and has been featured in Bitch magazine.

Richard Badenhausen

Richard Badenhausen, professor and director of the Honors program, will receive the Manford A. and June Shaw Faculty Publication Prize for his essay “Trauma and Violence in the Waste Land.”

Badenhausen is in charge of the Honors program and holds the Kim T. Adamson chair at Westminster.  He has shown a passion for raising awareness of social issues across the spectrum.  

Badenhausen previously won the Gore Excellence in Teaching Award at the 2014 commencement and  the Shaw Publication Prize for T. S. Eliot and the Art of Collaboration (Cambridge UP, 2005.) 

James Lee

James Lee, Utah local, will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Lee served a total of 31 years in the military, and as a Brigadier General in the Utah National Guard, he commanded all artillery units in Utah.

Lee not only has experience on the battlefield, but also has experience in advancing women in legal professions. Lee was the first male to win the prestigious Dorothy Merrill Brothers Award for the advancement of women in the legal profession.

Robert M. Graham

Robert “Bob” Graham, Utah local, will receive the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.

Graham had a successful 28-year career as a tax partner with Haskins & Sells (now Deloitte and Touche).

Of his life, he has said, “If I could do it all over again, I would do exactly what I have done.”

James R. Clark

James R. Clark, who has served on Westminster’s Board of Trustees for 12 years, will be awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.  

Clark is a retired corporate executive and former interim dean of the Bill & Vieve Gore School of Business at Westminster.

Clark has provided pro bono consulting to Ballet West, Habitat for Humanity and Pacific School of Religion, and he has consulted with the San Francisco Symphony.

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1 Comment

  1. Everyday of our life is a better chance for doing good in life so that we can make our name in this world. We should learn from our mistakes and should understand others so that we can become a good and responsible person of society.


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