UMSL commencement ceremonies set for May 11-13

(File photo by August Jennewein)

The University of Missouri–St. Louis looks to confer more than 1,500 degrees during its six commencement ceremonies May 11, 12 and 13, according to Chancellor Tom George, who pointed out a majority of graduates are from St. Louis.

“More than 85 percent of the people walking across the UMSL stage will be St. Louis-area residents,” George said. “They’re the next generation of St. Louis leaders and a lifeline to a better future for us all.”

UMSL has issued more than 112,000 degrees to a little over 99,000 individuals since its first commencement in 1967. More than 70 percent of UMSL graduates still live and work in the St. Louis region.

“Passing 100,000 graduates this spring is an amazing feat and testament to the hard work of our students, faculty and staff,” George said. “UMSL truly does educate St. Louis.”

Arol Augsburger

College of Optometry

The activities start at 2 p.m. May 11 when the College of Optometry honors its graduates at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. Arol Augsburger, president of Illinois College of Optometry, will be the speaker.

ICO is the oldest and largest college of optometry in the country and the largest provider of eye and vision care in Illinois. More than 110,000 patients are treated annually in the college’s Illinois Eye Institute. Prior to ICO, Augsburger devoted 30 years to a variety of leadership positions in higher education – including positions as a professor, dean and interim provost at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and professor of clinical optometry at The Ohio State University. The American Optometric Association has named Augsburger a Distinguished Service Awardee and National OD of the Year. An Optometrist of the Year in three states, he was inducted into the National Optometry Hall of Fame in 2014. Augsburger has served as president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, the National Board of Examiners in Optometry and the Rotary Club of Chicago, and as a member of the Special Medical Advisory Group to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s and doctor of optometry degrees at The Ohio State University.

Bobby Norfolk

College of Arts and Sciences (sciences, humanities and arts)

A 10 a.m. ceremony May 12 in the Mark Twain Athletic & Fitness Center will feature graduates of the sciences, humanities and arts from the College of Arts and Sciences. Bobby Norfolk, an internationally-known storyteller and teaching artist who grew up in north St. Louis, will speak and receive an honorary degree.

The son of an elevator operator and confectionery clerk, Norfolk initially struggled with a debilitating stutter that he suddenly overcame while performing in a fourth-grade poetry recital. He began his career as a stand-up comedian in St. Louis comedy clubs and as an actor with The St. Louis Black Rep. In 1979, he made his first appearance at the St. Louis Storytelling Festival and discovered that he was able to combine theater and comedy to become a “story-performer.” He later became the host of television’s “Gator Tales” and “Children’s Theater at Bobby’s House,” two St. Louis-based shows that featured themes of character education, literacy and storytelling. A three-time Emmy Award winner, multiple Parents’ Choice Award winner and a Storytelling Oracle Award honoree, Norfolk is also the creator of more than 10 CDs and co-author of eight children’s books. He earned his bachelor of general studies degree from UMSL in 2003 and was honored as a distinguished alumnus in 2014. Today, Norfolk travels nationally and internationally presenting performances, keynote speeches and workshops. His memoir “Eye to the Sky: Storytelling on the Edge of Magic” was published in 2016.

Susan Feigenbaum

Susan Feigenbaum

College of Arts and Sciences (social sciences)

Graduates from the social sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences will receive their degrees at 2 p.m. May 12 in the Mark Twain Athletic Center. Susan Feigenbaum is the speaker and Vincent Schoemehl will receive an honorary degree.

A professor of economics at UMSL, Feigenbaum is an applied econometrician whose work interests include health economics, public choice and the economics of science. Prior to joining UMSL in 1988, Feigenbaum was an associate professor at Claremont McKenna College, chief of methodology development for the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission and a scholar-in-residence at George Mason University’s Center for Study of Public Choice. Using a grant from the National Science Foundation, she created the UMSL Laboratory for Quantitative Economic Analysis. Honored with Governor’s and Chancellor’s Awards for Teaching Excellence, she has served as vice president of the Midwest Economics Association and as an executive board member for the Western Economics Association. In 2000, she was appointed as a trustee for the Missouri Consolidated Health Plan, a state commission charged with providing health insurance for state and municipal employees. Feigenbaum received her PhD in 1980 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She was awarded the title of Curators’ Teaching Professor in 2015.

Vincent Schoemehl

Schoemehl is a former three-term mayor of the city of St. Louis who served from 1981 to 1993. As one of the youngest mayors in the city’s history at the time of his election, Schoemehl led citywide efforts that focused on historic preservation, growth and revitalization. He initiated the expansion of Lambert International Airport, led the implementation of the MetroLink, led an effort to retain the St. Louis Blues hockey team, expanded the city’s convention capacity and created the Regional Arts Commission. From 2001 to 2015, Schoemehl was president and CEO of Grand Center Inc., a not-for-profit organization charged with restoring the Grand Avenue District of St. Louis. As president, he led the development of the district’s master plan and oversaw the creation of UMSL at Grand Center and the Kranzberg Arts Center. Schoemehl is currently an executive-in-residence at the Nine Network of Public Media and chairman of the board for St. Louis Language Immersion School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 1971.

Tony Thompson

Anthony “Tony” Thompson

College of Nursing, School of Social Work and UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program

A ceremony at 6 p.m. May 12 will feature graduates of the College of Nursing, School of Social Work and UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program at the Mark Twain Athletic Center. Anthony “Tony” Thompson is scheduled to speak.

Thompson is the founder, chairman and CEO of Kwame Building Group, the first African American employee stock ownership plan corporation in Missouri. Headquartered in St. Louis, Kwame is a construction and program management firm that provides project management, scheduling, estimating, contract and claims administration, and document control. Prior to founding Kwame, Thompson served as a project engineer at Anheuser-Busch, a mechanical engineer at Monsanto, and a construction engineer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A founder of the Kwame Foundation and Tyrone Thompson Institute of Non-Violence, he is also a board member of numerous civic and charitable organizations including the Regional Business Council, St. Louis Regional Crime Commission and the African American Business Leadership Council. Among his many honors, Thompson has been recognized with a Spirit of St. Louis Award, Character of Courage Award, FBI Leadership Award and multiple St. Louis American Salute to Excellence Awards. He holds two bachelor’s degrees – in architectural engineering and environmental design – from the University of Kansas, a master’s degree in civil engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and an MBA from Webster University.

Sharonica Hardin-Bartley

College of Education and SUCEED Program

Graduates of the College of Education and SUCCEED Program will participate in a 2 p.m. ceremony May 13 at the Mark Twain Athletic Center. Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, superintendent of University City Schools, is the speaker.

As superintendent, Hardin-Bartley oversees 2,800 students and more than 400 teachers and staff. She brings a hands-on approach to leadership and believes that one of her primary responsibilities is to help teachers and students bring their passions for education and learning to life. Hardin-Bartley began her career as a classroom teacher in St. Louis Public Schools and has since amassed more than 20 years of educational experience as a teacher and administrator. She was an active member of the Ferguson Commission’s Child Well-Being and Education Equity Work Group and currently serves on the board of directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and the University City Children’s Center. Hardin-Bartley earned an undergraduate degree in elementary education from Harris-Stowe State University, a master’s degree in education administration from Saint Louis University and a doctoral degree from UMSL.

Thomas Schlafly

College of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy Administration Program

The ceremony honoring graduates of the College of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy Administration Program is at 6 p.m. May 13 at the Mark Twain Athletic Center. Thomas Schlafly, chairman of The St. Louis Brewery and senior counsel at Thompson Coburn LLP, is the speaker and honorary degree recipient.

Schlafly is the chairman of the board of The Saint Louis Brewery, which brews Schlafly beer. In 1991, the brewery received the first microbrewery license issued by the state of Missouri and was the first brewery of any size to open in St. Louis since before Prohibition. Today, it is the largest American-owned brewery in Missouri. Schlafly also serves as senior counsel at Thompson Coburn and is one of the owners of the St. Louis Blues. He is a member of the board of Legg Mason Partners Equity Trust, which oversees more than 40 mutual and exchange traded funds that have a combined value of over $50 billion. Schlafly also serves on the board of Citizens National Bank of Greater St. Louis as well as several not-for-profit organizations, including the St. Louis Public Library. He was formerly a commentator on St. Louis Public Radio and chief lyricist for The Courthouse Steps, a troupe of singing lawyers. Schlafly received his undergraduate and law degrees from Georgetown University.

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