Wichita, Kan. – Newman University officials announced today that Fran and Geri Jabara and Monsignor William M. Carr will be awarded Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa degrees during the Fall 2009 Commencement ceremony, beginning at 10 a.m. Dec. 12 at Central Community Church, 6100 W. Maple in Wichita.
The university bestows the honorary degrees at each Fall and Spring Commencement upon notable members of the extended Newman community based on exemplary dedication to one of the university’s four Core Values: Catholic Identity, Culture of Service, Academic Excellence, and Global Perspective. Newman President Noreen M. Carrocci, Ph.D., said the Jabaras and Msgr. Carr are excellent examples of the university’s principles and ideals.
“We are very pleased to bestow honorary degrees upon these individuals,” Carrocci said. “Through their day-to-day activities and their lifelong achievements, they represent a commitment to the values of Newman University that is inspiring to people across the university and the greater Wichita communities. We are all richer for what they have done, and continue to do.”
Fran and Geri Jabara – Academic Excellence
The Jabaras were selected for their commitment to Academic Excellence. Fran joined the faculty of Wichita State University as an assistant professor of accounting in 1949, and served at WSU for 40 years. He was named Distinguished Professor in 1971 and was Dean of the College of Business Administration for seven years. A longtime advocate for teaching students both the fundamentals of entrepreneurship and how to apply them, Fran established one of the first Centers for Entrepreneurship in 1977 at WSU. Since that time, Fran and Geri have established academic entrepreneurship programs at universities nationwide.
Fran, a Certified Public Account, is founder of the merchant banking and investment company Jabara Ventures Group. With Geri, Fran also founded the Jabara Family Foundation, now known as the Fran Jabara Family Foundation, Inc. Geri currently serves on the boards of the Fran Jabara Family Foundation, Inc., as well as the Professor Fran and Geri Jabara Fund, Inc.
The Jabaras have also established many student scholarship programs, and are known for their generous philanthropic support to institutions of higher learning. In 1994, the Jabaras established the Harvey J. and Leona J. Ablah Awards at Newman University, in honor of Geri’s parents. These awards are presented annually to a male and female graduating senior who exemplify the spirit of Newman, demonstrate academic excellence, and show great promise to make positive contributions to society. Fran also served on the Newman Board of Directors from 1973 to 1984, and in recent years on the School of Business Advisory Board.
Upon discovering that a student’s attitudes toward institutions and occupations are heavily influenced by as early as the fifth grade, Fran also founded Project H.O.P.E. and VentureKids to enable minority fifth graders to learn about the opportunities business may offer. In the programs, which ran from 1991 to 2005, Fran gave each child who participated a $50 savings bond with a personal challenge to invest and grow the money into something more valuable.
The Jabaras’ strong support of business and education has brought them many awards, including the Cardinal Newman Medal from Newman University in 1999. Fran was also Chairman for the Kansas delegation to the 1986 White House Conference on Small Business, and has received the Leavey Award of Excellence in Private Enterprise Education from the Freedom Foundation; the George Washington Honor Medal; the Ernst Young, Merrill Lynch, Inc. Magazine Award for Entrepreneur of the Year; the Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidents Medal from Wichita State University, and the Small Business Administration National Financial Services Advocate of the Year Award. Fran was named to the Kansas Business Hall of Fame in 2007.
Monsignor William M. Carr – Catholic Identity
Msgr. Carr, who was selected as a model of Catholic Identity, has served the Church and the Wichita Diocese for close to 50 years. A convert to the Catholic faith, he was ordained March 14, 1959, and has had many appointments in his lifetime of service. His first appointment was as Assistant at St. Mary Cathedral in Wichita. From there he went on to serve as a teacher, a Chaplain and then Pastor in many parishes in the Wichita, Hutchinson and Pittsburg, Kan., areas. He was Chairman of the Liturgy Commission, and served on the Diocesan Clergy Conference Committee. He was also Diocesan Director for the Department of Religious Education. He was Pastor-Chaplain of the St. Paul Parish/Newman Center at Wichita State University for seven years. After serving as Pastor of Resurrection Parish, Wichita, he became Rector of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, an appointment he held until his retirement.
Msgr. Carr is respected for his scriptural and liturgical scholarship, his writings and lectures, and his study of Latin and Biblical Greek. Since 1966, he has written for several publications produced by the Sunday Missal Service, a national publisher of periodical missals, and background materials for the liturgy. Msgr. Carr still writes Instruction for Presiders, Lectors, and Commentators, a book he began in 1967 which provides commentaries, introductions to the Mass, General Intercessions, tips for the liturgy, and outlines for homilies. He produced two videotape series: What Catholics Believe and Catholics Read the Bible, which are used by many RCIA programs and have appeared on various diocesan television stations. He has also served as adjunct professor at Newman University, teaching courses in Old and New Testament.
On May 16, 2001 he was named Prelate of Honor to His Holiness Pope John Paul II (Monsignor). He retired in July 2002 but continues to contribute articles for the Wichita Diocese Catholic Advance newspaper.