The Newman University Fall 2012 Commencement ceremony was held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple. A total of 178 candidates for degrees were honored in the ceremony, including 37 candidates for associate’s degrees, 99 candidates for bachelor’s degrees, and 42 candidates for master’s degrees.
Students are considered candidates for degrees until final grades are posted and students are officially recognized as having fulfilled all requirements for their degrees. Official announcements and a full list of graduates are expected in early 2013.
The Commencement ceremony included an address by Newman University Associate Professor of Biology Michael Bradley, Ph.D. Bradley received the 2012 Newman University Teaching Excellence Award, an annual recognition 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 two notable and accomplished members of the extended 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. During the Fall 2012 ceremony, Diane Leary, CSJ was honored for her example of the Newman Core Value of Academic Excellence. Monsignor Thomas McGread was honored for his example of the Newman Core Value of Catholic Identity.
Diane Leary, CSJ
Leary played a major role in the development and expansion of women’s athletics at Newman, and is widely recognized as a “trailblazer” in Kansas athletics. Over her career she produced winning teams and set records at the national and regional levels – and imparted to hundreds of student-athletes the importance of academics as well as athletics.
Leary began her teaching and coaching careers in 1960 at junior high schools in Wichita, Chanute, and Pittsburg, Kan., where she taught history, math, religion, English and science. She later taught world history, theology and Russian culture at Madonna / Bishop Carroll Catholic High School, and helped launch the girls’ athletics program at Bishop Carroll. She launched girls’ athletics at St. Joseph (now St. Thomas Aquinas) High School in Shawnee, Kan., as well. She then moved to St. Mary of the Plains College in Dodge City, Kan., where she taught history, resurrected and built a winning football program, and was named athletics director ¬– the first woman at a Kansas college to hold that position.
When St. Mary closed in 1992, Leary came to Kansas Newman College, where she taught history and served as volleyball coach and later athletic director. During her tenure, she led the athletics program to multiple awards and championships, and added men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s cross-country programs. She retired from coaching in 1997, but continued to teach history at Newman until 2005, when she moved to Malawi, Central Africa, to teach history at a secondary school for 14 months. Since returning to Kansas, she has served as an adjunct history professor at Butler Community College and Newman University.
Throughout her career, Leary considered both her coaching and teaching to be important ministries. She is known for teaching students values and character both on and off the playing field. She is also dedicated to academics: In addition to her teaching credits, she holds a bachelor’s degree in history from St. Mary of the Plains, a master’s degree in European and Soviet history from Creighton University, and has pursued additional studies at many institutions, including Boston University, Boston College, Loyola University, Kansas State University, Kansas University, Wichita State University, and others.
Monsignor Thomas McGread
McGread has been called the “Father of Catholic Stewardship in the United States.” He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Wichita in 1953, and beginning in the 1960s he built St. Francis of Assisi into one of the most vibrant parishes in the country, by teaching parishioners how to use their gifts of time, talent, and treasure to serve God and the community.
Based on his work at St. Francis, McGread created the stewardship program for the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, which defines stewardship as “the grateful response of a Christian disciple who recognizes and receives God’s gifts and shares them in love of God and neighbor.” Thanks in large part to his unique approach toward stewardship, every child in the diocese has the opportunity to attend Catholic grade and high school free of cost, based upon tithing and parish budgeting. McGread’s concepts have made stewardship a way of life for people in the diocese for more than 30 years.
McGread was also influential in the drafting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ pastoral letter, “Stewardship: A Disciple’s Response,” which adopted his terminology and theological vision. He has been invited to parishes and dioceses across the country, and has been the keynote speaker at many conferences. He received the Christian Stewardship Award in 1993, and is the subject of the book Grateful and Giving: How Msgr. Thomas McGread’s Stewardship Message Has Impacted Catholic Parishes Throughout the Country, by Deacon Don McArdle.
McGread’s commitment to stewardship is also evident in his involvement with the community. He was a board member of the Guadalupe Medical Clinic, and served three terms on the Newman Board of Trustees between 1994 and 2003. He has been a generous donor to Newman University through his gifts to the Renaissance 2000 and Beyond the Renaissance capital campaigns, and the Monsignor Thomas McGread Endowment Fund. In 2004, he established the Monsignor Thomas McGread Endowed Scholarship Fund. He also supports Newman through events, the Annual Fund and many other means.
McGread is now Director Emeritus of Stewardship for the Diocese of Wichita. He holds the record as the longest-serving pastor in St. Francis of Assisi history, with more than 31 years of service.