UMSL will award honorary degrees this weekend to (from left) Dr. Patricia Wolff, pediatrician and founder of Meds & Food for Kids; Henry Givens, longtime president of Harris-Stowe State University; and Tom Sullivan, entertainer and humanitarian.

Dr. Patricia Wolff, a St. Louis pediatrician who left her private practice last year to devote her time to providing food and medicine to malnourished children in Haiti, is one of three individuals receiving honorary degrees at five commencement ceremonies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis May 12 and 13.

Tom Sullivan, an award-winning national entertainer, humanitarian and inspirational speaker, and Henry Givens, longtime president of Harris-Stowe State University in St. Louis, also will receive honorary degrees.

Wolff founded the nonprofit Meds & Food for Kids in 2003 and began dividing her time between her private practice and Haiti. She’s now devoted full time to the organization, which has created a peanut-based food that is a lifesaver for children with severe malnutrition. She has been raising money to build a new factory to manufacture the food and employ local workers

Sullivan, who has been blind since shortly after birth, has been wowing audiences for years with his many talents as an actor, singer, writer and TV producer. But its humanitarian efforts with the national public health program InfantSEE that will earn him an honorary degree this weekend. InfantSEE provides no-cost comprehensive vision assessments for infants 6 to 12 months of age, regardless of household income or insurance availability.

After 32 years as president of Harris-Stowe State University, Givens retired last year. He is credited with turning a St. Louis Public Schools teachers college with one building and a few hundred students into a sprawling campus in midtown St. Louis with multiple buildings and more than 1,700 students. Harris-Stowe offers 14 degrees and has two residence halls, an athletic center/auditorium, library and a center for childhood development.

Unless otherwise specified, all ceremonies will be held in the Mark Twain Athletic and Fitness Center. Details of UMSL’s five commencement ceremonies are as follows:

MAY 12
10 a.m. ceremony
College of Nursing, College of Fine Arts and Communication, School of Social Work, Master of Public Policy Administration
Speaker and honorary degree recipient: Patricia Wolff, M.D., founder and executive director, Meds and Food for Kids

2 p.m. ceremony
College of Arts and Sciences
Speaker: James Craig, Lt. Col. U.S. Army, professor of military science, St. Louis area Army ROTC (Gateway Battalion)

6 p.m. ceremony
Held in the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center
College of Optometry
Speaker and honorary degree recipient: Tom Sullivan, actor, singer, entertainer, author and producer

MAY 13
2 p.m. ceremony
College of Education, Bachelor of General Studies, Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies
Speaker: Alumnus Vincent Schoemehl, BA history 1974, President of Grand Center, Inc.
Honorary Degree recipient: Henry Givens, former president of Harris-Stowe State University

6 p.m. ceremony
College of Business Administration, UMSL/WU Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program, Missouri Science and Technology-Engineering Education Center
Speaker: Alumnus Andrew T. Hall, BSBA 1983, president and CEO, Stage Stores, Inc.


Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel