University of Evansville Celebrates 161st Commencement Ceremony on May 11

Posted: Saturday, May 11, 2019

The University of Evansville bestowed 497 degrees upon 475 graduates during the 161st commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11. President Christopher Pietruszkiewicz presided. 

Several awards were given at the ceremony including the Mabel Dillingham Nenneker and Guthrie May Outstanding Senior Award, the Alumni Association's Outstanding Teacher Award, and the Eykamp Prize. Additionally, three honorary degrees were given during the celebration. 

Full information on the award recipients is as follows: 

2019 Mabel Dillingham Nenneker and Guthrie May Outstanding Senior Award
Each year, a committee of students and faculty selects an award recipient for the most outstanding senior. The selection is based on high academic performance, a commitment to service, outstanding leadership, and involvement in diverse campus activities. The award is named for two of the University’s most respected alumni, Mabel Dillingham Nenneker and Guthrie May. 

This year’s recipient is Chace Avery. He truly embodies the spirit of philanthropy, innovation, and changemaking that are at the heart of the University of Evansville experience.

As a biochemistry student, research led Avery to an internship with the National Institutes of Health where he performed data analysis on a clinical trial focused on patients with severe insulin resistance.

While president of his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Avery created a new philanthropy event called the Patriot’s Run to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project where participants ran a 5k wearing backpacks, mirroring our US troops who wear heavy backpacks every day.

Avery says the pride and joy of his UE experience has been his involvement in Habitat for Humanity. He served as the President for Habitat for Humanity for two years, during which time he planned and executed the nation’s first Habitat for Humanity Barn Blitz. This event brought 200 UE students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members together to build 30 yard barns to accompany Habitat for Humanity Homes in Evansville. He also worked on the 499th Habitat for Humanity House in Evansville and was part of the inaugural Evansville team to build a Habitat for Humanity House while abroad in Portugal. To bring his involvement full circle, he will be building another home with UE students in Chacala, Mexico after graduation.

Avery also took a ChangeLab class focused on the development of Tiny Homes for the homeless in Evansville and was able to serve at a women’s shelter called Ruth’s House. He was a part of Student Christian Fellowship, an active Orientation Leader, and was a co-founder for the University’s Ballroom Dancing Club.

Avery has done all of the above while still maintaining an outstanding academic record, appearing on the Dean’s list every single semester of his UE career.

In August, Avery will attend Indiana University School of Medicine to pursue a medical specialty in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He says he plans to continue making a difference in the world of medicine through innovative philanthropy, just as he has at UE.

UE Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award
Professor Atefeh Yazdanparast was awarded the 2019 UE Alumni Association's Outstanding Teacher Award. Yazdanparast is highly revered by students and colleagues alike. Many say she is the best professor they’ve ever had and others think the best instructor at UE!

Dean Rawski says she is an exceptional teacher and scholar, and connects well with her students.

Yazdanparast received her Ph.D. in Marketing with a minor in Business Anthropology from the University of North Texas in 2012. Since joining the UE faculty in 2012, she has been the recipient of the 2018 Dean’s Teaching Award, the 2018 National Society of Leadership and Success Excellence in Teaching Award, Class of 1961 Faculty Fellowship Award in 2017, Global Scholar Award in 2015, and the Dean’s Research Award in both 2014 and 2016. 

Recently, Yazdanparast was named the 2019 Master Scholar award recipient by Marketing Management Association as part of an international competition to recognize marketing scholars who have engaged in innovative and impactful research. Following a multi-disciplinary and multi-method approach, Yazdanparast conducts qualitative and quantitative research and collaborates with researchers in other disciplines. Focusing on decision making, a majority of her intellectual contributions fall within the areas of social psychology of consumer behavior and the interplay of consumers and technology and her work has been published in many journals.

Yazdanparast teaches several marketing courses including digital marketing, marketing research, principles of marketing, and consumer behavior. She is committed to providing experiential learning opportunities for her students, and they have incorporated more than 20 marketing projects for local and global businesses.

Eykamp Prize
The 2019 recipient of the Eykamp Prize is professor Kristy Miller.

Since arriving at UE, she received the Sadelle and Sydney Berger Service Award for her involvement with student recruitment; and her efforts have been successful as her department has seen increased enrollments. She was also selected as one of the Evansville Business Journal’s 20 under 40, an honor that recognizes young leaders who make a difference in their community.

Miller is chair of the Department of Chemistry and instrumental to recruiting and retaining the best and brightest students to her department. In addition to mentoring Chemistry majors, she maintains contact with alumni and supports them throughout their professional careers. To keep alumni engaged in the life of the University, Dr. Miller hosts engaging events on campus, giving them a reason to return to Evansville.

Miller has also played a key role in fundraising to support her department. Most recently, she received funds to support undergraduate research and a distinguished lecture series from the Jean Dreyfus Lectureship.

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