Graduates Honored at Walsh University Commencement

Walsh University celebrated the personal and professional accomplishments of 595 graduates during its Commencement Weekend, May 8-9, 2021. This year’s class included graduates representing six countries and 18 states, earning degrees in 62 programs. In addition, Walsh was proud to welcome Brigadier General Robert Yates (Ret.), Director of Strategic Planning for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), as this year’s Commencement Speaker.

“Let me be the first, to formally recognize the Classes of 2020 and 2021 for their grit and determination for seeing it through to completion despite the many profound obstacles posed by the pandemic including remote learning, social distancing, travel restrictions, the illness itself and so much more. Your graduation today is also a smart salute to college students who preserved through similar conditions 100 years ago during the 1918 influenza pandemic. And stands as proof your readiness to enter, and conquer, the real world.” ~ Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Yates Commencement Address

Rather than one large ceremony, the University held a series of small ceremonies throughout the weekend. The ceremonies were also livestreamed with videos and photos available in the coming days on

Commencement weekend events included Baccalaureate Holy Mass, the Toast to the Tassel, the President’s Awards Dinner Honoring Outstanding Seniors and the Class of 2020 Barbecue.

Each ceremony included an Invocation and Blessing by Senior Chaplain Rev. Thomas Cebula, musical performances by the Chamber Singers and Concert Band and remarks by Walsh Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Michael Dunphy, Walsh President Dr. Tim Collins, Director of Alumni Relations Stephanie Koontz and 2021 graduate Madison Markus, the recipient of the Tower of Excellence Award.

Walsh’s most prestigious and long-standing honor, the Tower of Excellence Award is presented to the student can attain for contributions and service outside the classroom. After graduating as a member of the Honors Program with a degree in Behavioral Science, Madison Markus' 21 will remain at Walsh University where she will continue working toward a master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development, with the ultimate goal of becoming a school counselor.

“Walsh is not the culmination of our lives, but just the beginning. We are called to serve others, and Walsh has prepared us to do that. We must continue to follow our call, and nourish the seeds that have been planted in us, and guide others along the way. I am so excited to see where this next chapter takes you all.”  ~ Madison Markus, Senior Address, Tower of Excellence Honoree. 

In his remarks, Dr. Tim Collins congratulated the Classes of 2020 and 2021 for their resiliency in facing the challenges of the past year and assured each graduate "you are ready" to step confidently into the next chapter of life. 

“Today is not an end point but a jump off point …the mark of an opportunity to begin anew. I urge you to embrace opportunities that come before you as you take your place in the world with confidence, with grace, with humility …always meeting others with charity and kindness. As you step out of this Walsh experience…the moment has arrived when you must now step up to a life of serving others. It has been our privilege to have been part of your journey, and Walsh University looks forward to accompanying you for the rest of your life.”  ~ Dr. Timothy J. Collins, Walsh University President

Click here for the full draft of Dr. Timothy J. Collins’ Spring Commencement Address.

About Brig. Gen. Robert Yates, USCCB

A committed Catholic who has spent his life supporting the Church and its teachings, Yates currently serves as the Director of Strategic Planning of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) since his appointment in 2014. In this role, he oversees the planning and execution of the strategic plan for the Conference. 

Prior to joining the USCCB, Brig. Gen. Yates (Ret.) enjoyed a distinguished 30-year career with the United States Air Force before his retirement in 2011.

Throughout his more than 30-year military career, Yates served in multiple Department of Defense staffs with leadership roles including Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.; Assistant Director of Operations for Air Combat Command at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia; Deputy Military Representative to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium; and Director for Operations and Logistics at the Joint Forces Command at Norfolk Naval Station, Virginia.