DAVENPORT — St. Ambrose University will hold two winter commencement ceremonies for its graduates Dec. 18 at the RiverCenter. A graduate and doctoral hooding and commencement ceremony begins at 9 a.m. Micah Kiel, a theology professor at St. Ambrose, will deliver the commencement address to 74 students who have earned their master’s degrees and 37 who have earned doctoral degrees.
At 1 p.m., the university will celebrate 145 candidates who have earned Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Longtime Physical Plant Director Jim Hannon ’84 will address the graduating class.
St. Ambrose University President Amy Novak will participate in her first commencement ceremonies for the university. “We are excited to honor our graduates in person, something St. Ambrose and many other schools were unable to do last December,” Novak said. “Our graduates put in a lot of work and effort and they deserve to celebrate and be celebrated.”
Kiel teaches undergraduate theology courses and Master of Pastoral Theology courses. His address considers “a broad perspective from which to view the various ways the university tries to accomplish its mission and the types of values it hopes to instill in its graduates,” he said. “While there are a wide variety of disciplines, there ought to be a thread connecting them all that relates to God’s justice and human dignity,” he added. His message, inspired by Pope Francis’ emphasis on “encounter,” will touch on the idea of “genuine encounter with the world, with the people around us, with people whom we might not want to encounter.”
Hannon, a member of the Ambrosian community since 1981, has a deep personal history connected to St. Ambrose. He met his wife, Cathy (Luksetich) ’82, as a student. All four of their sons earned degrees from the university.
Hannon has witnessed the university’s grow in enrollment and physical size through the years. He played a major role in the latter, overseeing the construction or renovation of a dozen university facilities, including Christ the King Chapel, Wellness and Recreation Center, Rogalski Center and the Center for Health Sciences Education at Genesis, and four new residence halls.
When he enrolled at St. Ambrose, “There were 600 beds on campus. We have 1,700 beds now.” He plans to build his commencement remarks on the concepts of mind, body and spirit, components of the student experience that Hannon’s role at the university has enhanced. He will also talk about how students have enhanced his experiences. “I’ll try to share some insights into the things I learned from these students through the years — how they’ve helped open my mind to things that I didn’t grow up with,” he said.