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Trine celebrates 124th commencement
Speaker awarded honorary doctorate
Trine University launched 325 associate, baccalaureate, and master degree graduates into professional life at its 124th commencement Saturday, May 9 in Hershey Hall.
Trine University President Earl D. Brooks II welcomed those assembled, congratulated the students, and introduced the board of trustees and special guests before turning over the lectern to commencement speaker and Trine trustee Keith Busse.
Busse, an entrepreneur who founded a Fortune 500 company, gave his life as an example of working hard to meet a goal. Acknowledging that many grads present that day had worked their way through school, “I’ve been there,” he told them. “Many times I wished I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but I wasn’t, so I took a new path.”
Although he desired to study mechanical engineering, he lacked the funds. So he put himself through business school while working nights to earn his accounting degree. He went back to school at night while raising four children and working 50 hours a week to further enhance his education.
He got to test his skills at Nucor in 1987, accepting the challenge to create new technology for the steel company. He and his team met the challenge in one year, and Nucor progressed to become a global company.
Striking out with a partner to build a steel mill in 1993, he subsequently built Steel Dynamics, one of the world’s largest and most profitable mills. “You never know,” he told the students. “Your contributions are yet to unfold. Your only limits will likely be self imposed.”
He stressed character as the means to success. “Your tools are ethics, honesty, and integrity. Leaders need these, and people will gravitate to you if you show them. Always be cognizant of the consequences of your actions. Never stab others in the back and think of yourself only. The team is the important thing,” he said.
A difficult economy and world crises present opportunities to learn and develop, he told them. “You are our nation’s future, and I believe your better days are ahead. You can learn from mistakes and make a better world for our children.”
Busse was presented with an honorary Doctor of Business Administration degree, while retired Sen. Robert L. Meeks, who devoted 51 years to public service, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Meeks urged the graduates to enter public service. “Public service is wide open. The water’s fine. Jump in,” he said.
After the presentation of the honorary degrees, the new Trine alma mater, composed by Trine music director Mark Kays, was sung publicly for the first time by Trine student Becky Torres.
Before the ceremonies, Trine University faculty and staff members received honors at an annual Commencement Breakfast in Whitney Commons. President Brooks awarded the Service Award to Professor David Syler, who retired as chair of the Department of Mathematics & Informatics this year after 40 years at the university. The President’s Award for Excellence in Performance went to Mike Mexicott of campus operations for his exacting attention to customer service, and to Wendy Yagodinski for her skills and friendliness as a programmer analyst in Information technology.
Receiving the Overall Excellence in Teaching Award was Dr. Ira Jones, a professor in the Science Department. Dr. Thomas Tierney, Professor Christina Zumbrun, Dr. Jones and Professor Marlene R. Sweet earned McKetta-Smith Excellence in Teaching Awards in arts and sciences.
Earning McKetta-Smith Excellence in Teaching Awards in engineering were Dr. Ramiro Bravo, Dr. Tim Tyler, Professor Tom Trusty, and Dr. John Wagner. Professor William Maddock received the McKetta-Smith Excellence in Teaching Award in business.
The Faculty Scholarship Award went to Academic Support Services Director Kathie Wentworth, while Dr. Jean Deller earned the Faculty Service Award. Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Awards went to Professor Tom Van Buskirk of the School of Professional Studies and Professor James Simons of the main Angola campus.
Professor Maddock was presented the Barrenbrugge Faculty Excellence Award, which includes a stipend and honorary plaque. Dr. Susan Lantz of the Wade Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering earned the Jannen Award, while Trine Registrar Debra Helmsing was awarded the Pete Hippensteel Athletic Service Award.