Walsh University Confers Degrees on 638 Students and 2 Honorary Degree Recipients During 2023 Commencement Exercises

Walsh University proudly hosted its 60th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 6, 2023, conferring degrees to 638 students, representing 30 states and 9 countries. A morning ceremony was held for graduates of the DeVille School of Business and the Byers School of Nursing, while graduates of the School of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the School of Arts, Sciences, and Education walked across the stage in the afternoon, at the Cecchini Health and Wellness Complex, Alumni Arena. 

In his opening remarks, Dr. Tim Collins, the Seventh President of Walsh University, urged students to take their formation and education and place it in service for the betterment of others.

“The responsibilities you assume today, as one of only seven people out of every 100 in the world to achieve any level of higher education, is enormous as you become our future leaders in the family, the workplace, your communities, and throughout society,” Dr. Collins said. “If you remember nothing else of what is said today, remember this: Your greatest achievements will be marked not by what you do but by what you do for others.”

During the Commencement exercises, Walsh University conferred honorary doctorates on two candidates for their lifetime achievements, two men who have distinguished themselves as servant leaders, building a community and making a difference in the world.

Roger DeVille, a 1965 alumnus, successful business owner, philanthropist, community leader, namesake of the DeVille School of Business, and long-time friend and benefactor of Walsh University, received an Honorary Doctorate of Business.  In his passionate acceptance speech, he congratulated this year’s graduates.

“I’m very, very humbled and very privileged and very honored to receive this special award,” he said. “More than ever, the world needs educated people just like you who can think rationally and make good decisions.  You are our hope.”

DeVille also reminisced about the positive influence the Brothers of Christian Instruction had on his life.

“I knew all seven Brothers of Christian Instruction very well,” he said. “Their mission was to teach, to educate and to help young people. Not only were they teaching the curriculum, they were teaching virtues. All of the students received a bonus when they were educated here at Walsh.  They didn’t know it. They didn’t pay for it.  They just received it because it was part of the culture. They were being taught – and they’re still being taught – virtues like hard work, selflessness, multi-tasking, benevolence, kindness, goal setting, perseverance, integrity, faith, service to others and success. You couldn’t help but learn these virtues when you were surrounded every day by the example of the founding Brothers. They never tired.”

Walsh University also presented this year’s Commencement speaker, Mar Bashar Matti Warda, CSsR, Archbishop of Erbil, Iraq, the world’s leading voice on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, with an Honorary Doctorate of Theology.

During his keynote address, Archbishop Warda said society needs a younger generation of Christian leaders who can provide hope and courage.

“Our world today is facing many social, political and economic crises. Greed drives the economy, politics, and media, giving the appearance of success when only a dark shadow exists in reality. Jealousy replaces care. Relativism replaces an ethical solution to problems. Forgiveness and reconciliation have become a sign of weakness.  Division extends to every land,” he said.  “We need you, the youth, to be leaders of hope in our world, leaders who are caring, courageous and stand in solidarity and have loyalty, and leaders who rejoice in the call that God has given them.”

Ordained a priest in 1993, the Archbishop joined the Redemptorist order of Flanders in Belgium two years later. After receiving a master’s degree from the Catholic University of Louvain in 1999 he returned to Iraq.  In 2009 the Synod of Bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church elected him for service as a bishop, and Bishop Warda was consecrated in July 2010. As part of his efforts to support the continuing Christian presence in Iraq, the Archbishop founded the Catholic University in Erbil in 2015.
Last November, Walsh University welcomed Archbishop Warda to campus to sign a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at creating new opportunities for education and understanding in the Middle East.

“The Catholic University in Erbil is expanding and quickly becoming the center for interreligious dialogue in the Middle East,” he said. “Allying with academic institutions such as Walsh University will strengthen our presence through education that promotes the dignity of man. This assistance provides us the tools and deposits of knowledge to continue our mission of education for coexistence with Islam.”

Tower of Excellence recipient and three-time team captain of the football team, Jaden Baxter of Akron, Ohio, who gave the graduating class address, reminded his fellow graduates, “Graduation is not the climax of your story or mine, it’s merely a checkpoint to go on and accomplish bigger and better deeds. Never let failure define you; instead, let it elevate you to become better.”

He explained that even though he had dreamed of playing in the NFL his entire life, God had other plans for him.
“Coming to Walsh, and being surrounded by all of you, I learned that my life’s purpose was never the League, it was to help others.  Your purpose is not found in what you do, but in who you are and what God has placed inside of you. Whatever you do, do it with passion, endless determination and uncontainable joy.”

View photos from both the morning and afternoon Commencement exercises, the President's Awards Dinner and video replays of the Live Stream.

Catholic Echo, May 2023, Walsh seeks to be brothers, sisters in faith to persecuted Iraqi Christians

Canton Repository, May 2023, Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda of Iraq delivers commencement speech at Walsh University