UD Welcomes New Generation of Crusader Alumni
Date Published: Monday, May 21, 2018
Outdoor chairs filled up quickly as droves of graduates, professors, families and
friends arrived on the Braniff Mall the morning of Sunday, May 12, to participate
in the 59th annual Spring Commencement Ceremony in honor of UD’s new generation of
Crusader alumni. This year, the university held its first-ever combined commencement
ceremony for all graduate and undergraduate students, awarding bachelor’s, master’s
and doctoral degrees from all four schools, including the Constantin College of Liberal
Arts, the Braniff Graduate School of Liberal Arts, the Ann and Joe O. Neuhoff School
of Ministry, and the Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business.
The Most Rev. Edward J. Burns, bishop of the Diocese of Dallas and chancellor of UD,
offered the opening invocation and formal blessing, followed by greetings from National
Alumni Board President Dexter Freeman, MBA ’11, Board of Trustees Chairman Thomas
Zellers, M.D., BA ’79, and Executive Vice President John G. Plotts (now interim president).
“In living magnanimously, you will love truth and justice well, becoming who you are
called to be,” said Provost and Professor of Philosophy Jonathan J. Sanford, imparting
a final reflection to the new graduates.
“We are eager to see you come into your own and set this world ablaze with your great
and good life and works,” he continued. “Let us commence.”
Both Tom Nealon, MBA '87, president of Southwest Airlines, and Miriem Bensalah-Chaqroun, MBA '86, a leading Morrocan businesswoman, addressed the more than 450 graduates,
rejoicing in the culmination of these years of intense academic endeavor. From five behaviors behind the core of leadership to their own successes in life and business, the honorary degree recipients shared
personal testaments of lessons gained from their UD educations.
“I want to challenge you to [ask yourself], what type of leader do I want to be? What
type of person do I want to be?” said Nealon. “Being a leader takes humility … love
of people … courage … perseverance … and, finally, patience.”
“You hold the power to realize your dreams, because you are the shapers of the global
tomorrow,” said Bensalah-Chaqroun.
For the highest cumulative GPA in the undergraduate Class of 2018, First Honors went to Joseph Pecha, BS ’18, and Second Honors went to Mara Borer, BA ’18; the Helen L. Corbitt Awards for Excellence were given to Teresa Roach, BA ’18, and Joseph Pecha, BS ’18, for their excellence in academic pursuits, student activities and service
to the university; the Ann Heller Maberry Award was presented to Carolyn Mackenzie, BA ’18, and Briget Hyde, BA ’18; and Colette Ohotnicky, BS ’18, was awarded the Cardinal Spellman Award for modeling the highest ideals of the university.
After the awards, Valedictorian Catherine Blume, BA ’18, elected by the senior class (also the university’s 43rd Fulbright scholar),
reminisced over her UD years including her last all-nighter in the Cowan-Blakley Memorial
Library. “As graduates of the University of Dallas, we have been entrusted with a
special mission: to be men and women of faith in the world,” said Blume. “By our love
we will be soldiers of Christ, for there is no better way to witness to him. We have
been armored with knowledge of the truth and with a desire to pursue wisdom and virtue,
which our education at UD has given us, and we have learned how to live those truths
and virtues in our friendships. Our possession of these blessings leaves us with little
room for fear. But if we are ever greatly wounded, our faith has provided us with
the hope that no matter how weak we are, no matter how far we fall, when we return
to God, especially in the Sacraments, we will be healed.
Listen and read the full commencement speeches by following the links in the right