Westminster Announces 2009 Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipients
Room to Read founder and former Microsoft executive John Wood to address graduates
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Krista DeAngelis (801) 832-2682
May 6, 2009
SALT LAKE CITY – Westminster is pleased to announce John Wood, former Microsoft executive and Room to Read founder, as the honored speaker for the college’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 30, 2009 at 1:45 p.m. at the E Center at 3200 Decker Lake Dr. in West Valley.
Wood will also be presented an honorary degree at the commencement, along with Katherine W. Dumke, Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. and Verl R. Topham.
John Wood – Commencement Speaker and Honorary Doctor of Public Service Recipient:
In 1998, Wood was a rising executive at Microsoft when he took a vacation that changed his life. On a trek through the Himalayas, he visited a local school and was shocked by both the physical poverty he saw and the poverty of opportunity which he believed would doom generations. Knowing that education could change the future, he decided to make change happen...one book and one child at a time.
Wood founded Room to Read, one of the fastest growing, most effective non-profits of the last decade. It has, so far, established more than 700 schools and over 7,000 bilingual libraries with five million books. In the process of helping more than three million children, he has found the life meaning and purpose he sought on the trek he took and the journey he continues to make.
Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. - Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree Recipient:
Zeke is an established businessman who displays an innovative entrepreneurial spirit which drives him to become involved in projects that present interesting challenges that he can help resolve. His involvement with Westminster can be traced to his father, a successful physician who supported the college’s School of Nursing. Zeke built on that relationship and along with the Katherine W. and Ezekiel R. Dumke Foundation has touched all aspects of the college’s operations with gifts that helped create the Dumke Student Theatre, Tower Reading Room and Dumke Field. He and Kay also created a critically important revolving property loan fund that allows the college to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and replenish the funds so it is ready to serve again.
His continued commitment to the college springs from the belief that “Westminster plays an important role in educating our community,” and for that the college recognizes Zeke Dumke, Jr. for the important role in making that possible.
Katherine W. Dumke - Honorary Doctor of Public Service Degree Recipient:
When she was growing up, Kay’s family helped her learn all that she would need to know about running a business and also taught her about the obligation people have to be involved and seek to improve their communities. She has succeeded in both and combines them as the president of the Katherine and Ezekiel Dumke Foundation which focused on education, children and the arts.
Kay recognized Westminster’s emphasis on student engagement in the learning process. The net result was that she encouraged and supported the decision of many of her children and grandchildren to enroll in Westminster. “The college,” she said, “gave them the personal attention they needed and the room to explore their interests and discover their passion. And, as it has become better known, a Westminster degree continues to grow in terms of its external value as well.”
Verl R. Topham - Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters Degree Recipient:
Topham wasn’t yet on the Westminster Board of Trustees when in 1995 he agreed to chair the capital campaign that raised $33 million to endow scholarships and construct the Giovale Library. During his board term, 1996–2008, he mentored many Westminster MBA students. Topham taught business students through classic literature because he believes the classics are key to the most difficult business skill to master—understanding human behavior. He mastered that skill and more as attorney for mergers and acquisitions, vice president for operations, and president and CEO of Utah Power/Pacificorp. He brought those same skills to his service as chair of the board for the Utah Shakespearean Festival, Utah Opera and the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Topham believes higher education is not about teaching students a profession, but about teaching them how to solve problems.
WHO: John Wood – Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degree Recipient
Katherine W. Dumke, Ezekiel R. Dumke Jr. and Verl R. Topham –
Honorary Degree Recipients
WHAT: Westminster 2009 Commencement Ceremony
WHERE: The E Center
3200 South Decker Lake Drive (2200 West)
West Valley, UT
WHEN: May 30, 2009
Westminster is a nationally recognized, comprehensive liberal arts college. With a broad array of graduate and undergraduate programs, Westminster is distinguished by its unique environment for learning. Westminster prepares students for success through active and engaged learning, real world experiences and its vibrant campus community. Westminster’s unique location, adjacent to the Rocky Mountains and to the dynamic city of Salt Lake, further enriches the college experience. For more information visit http://www.westminstercollege.edu or follow WestminsterSLC on Twitter.