Marian University to Host In-Person Commencement Ceremonies, Awarding 1,000 Degrees

by News Release | May 06, 2021
Marian University will host an in-person ceremony on campus Saturday, May 8, and Sunday, May 9, awarding 1,000 degrees to graduates. The 2021 graduating class is comprised of 636 undergraduate students earning bachelor and associate degrees, 185 graduate students, 30 doctors of nursing practice, and 149 future doctors of osteopathic medicine from the Marian University College of Osteopathic Medicine (MU-COM), the medical school’s fifth graduating class. 

“In my twenty years as Marian University’s president, commencement has always been a very special time on campus, but considering the unique circumstances our students endured this year, I am exceptionally proud of all the 2021 graduates,” Daniel J. Elsener, president of Marian University, said. “With 1,000 students graduating between our campus locations in Indianapolis and Nashville, Tennessee, and also our online programs, we are thankful to hold in-person ceremonies for our very deserving graduates. It is a blessing for our university community to celebrate this milestone together.” 

The university will hold ceremonies two separate days at St. Vincent Field on campus to allow for proper social distancing of graduates and guests. Both ceremonies will begin at 10 a.m., with the undergraduate ceremony taking place on Saturday, May 8, and the graduate and doctorate ceremony taking place on Sunday, May 9. A live streaming option is also available for graduates and guests who choose to participate virtually. 

Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush, 108th Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, will deliver the commencement address at the undergraduate ceremony on May 8. Timothy L. Putnam, D.H.A., president and chief executive officer of Margaret Mary Health, will deliver the commencement address at the graduate and MU-COM ceremony on May 9. 

Marian University will confer honorary degrees during both ceremonies. Recipients at the undergraduate ceremony are: 

Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush
Recipient of Doctor of Jurisprudence 

Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush took the oath of office as Indiana's 108th Supreme Court Justice in November 2012 after being appointed by Governor Mitch Daniels.

Chief Justice Rush recently led response efforts to the addictions crisis as co-chair of the National Judicial Opioid Task Force. She was named the 2018 Indiana Chamber Government Leader of the Year.

Frank D. Walker
Recipient of Doctor of Philanthropy 

Frank D. Walker is chairman emeritus of Walker Information, a customer experience advisory firm serving national and international clients headquartered in Indianapolis. He also serves as president of The Walker Family Foundation. 

Walker has a passion for studying the field of ethics. In 2018, Walker and The Walker Family Foundation helped to establish and fund the Walker Center for Applied Ethics at Marian University.

Peter Salvador Piazza
Recipient of Doctor of Business 

Peter Salvador Piazza founded Piazza Produce in 1970 as a small family owned company with a single truck. Today, Piazza Produce delivers to over 150 surrounding cities including those in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan. 

As Piazza Produce continues to shine as leader in the food service industry, they have joined with some of the nation’s leading organizations to provide customers with unique products and the freshest produce. 

Sister Michele Dvorak, PHJC, Ed.D. 
Recipient of Doctor of Religious Education 

Michele Dvorak, PHJC, Ed.D., is a member of the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ and currently serves as the president of Ancilla College in Donaldson, Indiana.

Dr. Dvorak has received several awards including the Saint Joseph the Worker Award, Criminal Justice Club Award, South Chicago Chamber of Commerce Award, and the Excellence in Management Award from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Honorary degree recipients at the graduate and MU-COM ceremony are: 

Timothy L. Putnam, D.H.A.
Recipient of Doctor of Public Health 

Timothy L. Putnam, D.H.A., is president and chief executive officer of Margaret Mary Health, a community hospital serving communities in Ripley and Franklin Counties including Batesville and Oldenburg, Indiana.

Dr. Putnam currently serves on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Health Equity Taskforce. In 2015, he was appointed by former Indiana Governor of Indiana and Vice President of the United States Mike Pence to chair the Indiana Board of Graduate Medical Education. 

Thomas Ingraham Wood (posthumously) and Julie Davis Wood  
Recipients of Doctor of Philanthropy 

Thomas Ingraham and Julie Davis Wood started Tom Wood Automotive. In 2017, with 13 dealerships in three states, Tom Wood Automotive celebrated their 50 year anniversary and is still a family owned and operated. 

Tom Wood passed away in 2010, and Julie established the Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation in 2010 to honor their commitment to give back to the community. The Tom and Julie Wood Family Foundation are supporters of Marian University’s Pipeline Program for Diverse Future Leaders.

Dr. William L. and Nancy Miller McNiece (posthumously) 
Recipients of Doctor of Arts and Humane Letters

Nancy Miller McNiece, an alumna of Marian University, served as an operating room nurse for thirty-seven years at Riley Hospital for Children before passing away in 2013. 

William L. McNiece, M.D., practices pediatric anesthesia at Riley Hospital for Children. In 2018, he received the Indiana Society of Anesthesiologists Distinguished Service Award. The endowed Marian University Nancy Miller McNiece Nursing Scholarship supports nursing education.

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Brad R. Wucher
Vice President of Enrollment, Marketing Communications
(317) 955-6307
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