Newman University honors spring 2012 graduates

The Newman University Spring 2012 Commencement ceremony was held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 12, 2012 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple. Read the story and see photos and video of the weekend activities.

The Commencement ceremony included an address by Newman Associate Professor of Nursing Amy Siple. Siple received the 2011 Newman University Teaching Excellence Award, an annual recognition presented to a full-time faculty member who has demonstrated an innovative or dynamic approach to courses, course revisions, and teaching techniques. The award recipient also has the honor of speaking at the fall and spring commencement ceremonies.

The ceremony also included the bestowal of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degrees upon three notable and accomplish members of the extend Newman community. The honorary degrees are awarded each fall and spring commencement to individuals whose life and work reflect exemplary dedication to one of the university's four core Values: Catholic Identity, Culture of Service, Academic Excellence, and Global Perspective.

The Most Rev. Michael O. Jackels

For the Spring 2012 ceremony, the Most Rev. Michael O. Jackels was honored for the Core Value of Catholic Identity. Pope John Paul II appointed Bishop Jackels the 10th Bishop of Catholic Diocese of Wichita on Jan. 28, 2005. Since that time, he has gained the admiration and respect of people throughout the region for his dedication to the tenets of the Catholic faith, his leadership abilities, his vision, his intellect, as well as his personal warmth and sense of humor.

Originally from Rapid City, S.D., Bishop Jackels studied at the University of Nebraska from 1972 to 1974, then entered St. Pius X Seminary in Erlanger, Ky., where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy. He earned a master's degree in Theology at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln in 1981. He served in several teaching, administrative and pastoral positions in the Diocese, then left to pursue post-graduate studies in Rome, where he earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology at The Pontifical University of St. Thomas, commonly known as The Angelicum. Bishop Jackels worked for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome for eight years under Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. He was named a Prelate of Honor by Pope John Paul II in 1994.

Bishop Jackels has long been a proponent of Catholic education and previously served as a teacher of religion and Diocesan Director of Religious Education. He continues to promote Catholic education in the Diocese of Wichita, and helped establish the St. Katharine Drexel Catholic School Fund, which supports Catholic schools across the Diocese in their efforts to make Catholic education available to all families rather than exclusively for those who can afford to pay the entire costs.

He has been a staunch supporter of Newman since his arrival in the Diocese, and championed the university's graduate programs in Theology and Theological Studies. He provided scholarships that allowed many students to obtain those degrees. He has appeared at the university many times to celebrate Mass, particularly the semi-annual Baccalaureate Mass, and speak to faculty, staff and students in other settings. During a recent visit he examined how the university is living out the key elements of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, an apostolic constitution issued by Pope John Paul II that outlines the role and operation of Catholic universities, particularly in terms of Catholic identity, mission, ecclesial communion, and service rendered.

Dale and Alice Wiggins

Alice and Dale Wiggins received an honorary degree for their demonstration and commitment to the Newman University Core Value of Culture of Service. Alice (Biggs) Wiggins, now retired from a career in nursing, graduated in 1985 from Kansas Newman College, now Newman University, with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Dale is a two-time graduate of Wichita State University, and a founding partner of Daland Corporation, a management company and independent franchisee that operates 11 separate corporations that own Pizza Hut restaurants throughout the upper Midwest and Eastern Seaboard.

Dale and Alice have been generous in giving both time and resources to many Catholic charitable organizations. The Wiggins played a significant role in the development of the Guadalupe Clinic, now a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita that offers free or low-cost medical services to low-income residents of Wichita. Alice Wiggins continues to volunteer at the Guadalupe Clinic, as well as devoting time to parish nursing and counseling at A Better Choice. The Wiggins remain active with the clinic and the Annual Midwest Winefest, which has raised more than $2.5 million in support of the clinic through the Guadalupe Health Foundation, of which Dale serves as a member of the board. The Wiggins have been longstanding supporters of Newman University. Dale served as a member of the Newman Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1988. Dale and Alice have also supported many other educational and civic organizations, including Wichita State University, The Boys and Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, Rainbows United, Wichita Habitat for Humanity and Holy Savior Catholic Academy.

Dale and Alice were early collaborators on the concept of "stewardship," as it was developed by Monsignor Thomas McGread for St. Francis of Assisi Parish, where they were longtime members. They served on the Diocesan Stewardship Committee for many years. Dale was on the original board of Directors of The Lord's Diner. They are both members of Legatus. Recently, they served on the Honorary Committee for the "Together Vision" campaign of the Diocese and as honorary chairs of the "Building the Tradition" campaign of Bishop Carroll Catholic High School. Dale and Alice are now members of St. Catherine of Siena Parish, where they serve on their parish council. The Wiggins' family life is centered around their four children, daughters Joni and Jill, both of Kansas City, daughter Julie, of Chicago, and son Chris of Boston, and 13 grandchildren.

See a list of all graduates by hometown, state, degrees earned, major, and academic honor here.

To see videos from the Spring 2012 Graduation ceremonies visit the Newman University YouTube page.

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