VALPARAISO — The 2016 Valparaiso University commencement ceremonies Saturday and Sunday will celebrate the achievements of 681 undergraduate, 327 graduate, and 155 law students.
A highlight of the ceremonies will be the conferring of an honorary law degree to Valparaiso resident Barb Young, a founding member and outgoing president of the Porter County Community Foundation, at the 10 a.m. law school commencement in the Chapel of the Resurrection May 14.
Young received her J.D. from Valparaiso University Law School in 1976 and worked for Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans for 17 years before joining Benchmark, Ltd. Young became president of PCCF in 1998 and will retire at the end of 2016.
“Barb is a pillar of the community and an outstanding example of the sort of impact law school graduates can have when they dedicate their lives to public service,” said Jeremy Telman, VU law professor.
Telman said Young’s focus throughout her career and philanthropic endeavors has been to increase literacy and eliminate homelessness and alcohol and drug abuse in her community.
He said Young has maintained close ties with VU and has served on the President’s Advisory Council, the Valparaiso Community Campaign, the Athletic Advisory Council, Project Neighbors, and the law school alumni association board of directors.
“It would be hard to name a person who has been more central to public service and philanthropy in the Valparaiso community than Barb Young,” said Telman. “Her vision of civic involvement and philanthropic support has always taken into account the entire spectrum of human life from programs for children continuing through community support for the elderly and for hospice.”
Young said she was “very surprised” to be awarded the honorary degree.
“It’s a wonderful honor,” said Young. “I think of it sometimes as people who are academically oriented, but this was coming more from my community service."
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis will deliver the commencement address at the law school ceremonies at 10 a.m. in the chapel on Saturday.
The commencement speaker at the undergraduate ceremonies at 1:30 p.m. May 15 in the Athletic Recreation Center is Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International. Sorenson also serves on the Luther College board of regents and the Brookings Institution board of trustees.
“As our year comes to a close, I admire the dedication to learning, leadership, and service that our students and faculty exhibit every day,” said Mark Heckler, VU’s president. “With this passion for excellence so present in our community, I am grateful for the achievements and discoveries made each day at this very special place.”