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Winter commencement ceremonies return after 5 years

Congressman John Dingell, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger to receive honorary doctoral degrees from Wayne State, Dec. 12

November 24, 2009

Wayne State University will resume twice-a-year graduation ceremonies beginning this fall with Dec. 12 -13 commencement exercises at the university's Matthaei Athletics Center. The ceremonies will mark the first time in five years that the university has held December commencement. Ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. both days to accommodate the university's various schools and colleges. (See below for a schedule of which schools/colleges will be represented at each of the events.)

Longtime U.S. Congressman John Dingell and UAW President Ron Gettelfinger will receive honorary doctoral degrees at the 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, ceremonies. Originally, they were to have accepted the honor at commencement ceremonies last May, but both were summoned to Washington on short notice for hearings regarding the auto industry bailout.

There are about 1,800 students in Wayne State's December graduating class. The winter commencement program was resumed in response to numerous requests by graduating students, many of whom found it impractical to wait for an annual ceremony held in May. The university will continue the May graduation event as well.

Congressman John Dingell, who represents Michigan's 15th Congressional District, will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his lifelong dedication to environmental protection, support of better health care for all Americans, strong support of the automobile industry and an unprecedented career in Congress, where he is the longest-serving House member in the nation's history.

Over the past five decades, he has written many well-known laws protecting health and the environment, as well as the rights of workers and consumers. He also fought for passage of the Endangered Species Act and laws that address the Children's Health Insurance Program. In 2003, he took a lead role in creating the "Do Not Call" list to help families stop unwanted telemarketing. He also is chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Ron Gettelfinger, president of the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America International Union (UAW), will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in recognition of his lifelong commitment to improving the lives of working men and women.

As UAW president, he represents more than one million active and retired members around the world. First elected president in 2002, he has presided over the labor union during years of prosperity as well as some of the auto industry's most difficult times, when union members have been asked to accept wage and benefit concessions in order to keep the Detroit automakers viable.

In 2008, the UAW chief joined representatives of Detroit automakers before Congress to request taxpayer-financed loans that were considered vital to the companies' survival. His willingness to negotiate with industry leaders resulted in financing that helped safeguard nearly three million auto-related jobs. He is an outspoken advocate for making health care accessible and affordable for all U.S. citizens.

 Commencement Ceremony Schedule
Saturday, Dec. 12, 10 a.m.
School of Library and Information Science
College of Nursing
School of Social Work
Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
School of Medicine (Ph.D. and master's degree candidates)

Saturday, Dec. 12, 3 p.m.
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Sunday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m.
College of Education
College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts

Sunday, Dec. 13, 3 p.m.
School of Business Administration
College of Engineering

Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 350 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 31,000 students.