University of Evansville’s 158th Commencement Ceremony Set for May 7

Posted: Thursday, May 5, 2016

The University of Evansville will award 513 degrees during its 158th Commencement ceremony, at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Ford Center in downtown Evansville. The event will feature the senior keynote address, conferring of honorary degrees, presentation of the University of Evansville Alumni Association’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year award, as well as the Outstanding Senior Service awards.

This year’s senior keynote speaker will be Mark Speckhard of Valparaiso, Indiana. He will be receiving a Bachelor of Science in public health.

During his time at UE, Speckhard was a member of the honor council and held several leadership positions in his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE). The SAE national fraternity selected Speckhard to participate in Inner Circle, a leadership conference available to only 30 undergraduate brothers across the country.

He also served as president of the UE VETS student veterans’ organization. Speckhard received the Grand Alpha Award for his outstanding contributions to Greek Life and the SGA Vision Award.

As a United States Marine, Speckhard was deployed twice to Afghanistan where he trained Afghan police officers and was in charge of security for meetings with Afghan village leaders. He received a US Marine Corps Certificate of Commendation and the US Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the highest non-combat decoration awarded for heroism by the US Department of Navy.

During the ceremony, Leslie Griffiths will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, and John David Lutz will receive an honorary Doctor of Letters degree

Griffiths is superintendent minister at Wesley’s Chapel, the “mother church” of world Methodism. He holds degrees from the Universities of Wales (BA), Cambridge (MA) and London (PhD) in literature, theology, and history respectively. He has written books on a range of issues and themes, and an autobiography A View from the Edge.

He served the Methodist church for 10 years in Haiti and is recognized for his expertise in Haitian politics, literature, history, and culture. For 30 years he has exercised a radio ministry with the BBC and Premier Christian radio. He is president of the Boys’ Brigade, a national Christian youth organization, and patron or president of half a dozen charities. In 2004 he was appointed to the House of Lords in the British parliament where he sits with the Labour Party.

He holds honorary fellowships of Cardiff University, Trinity Saint David’s College in Wales, Sarum College in Salisbury, and Southlands College in Roehampton. He is an honorary canon of Saint Paul’s Cathedral, a freeman of the City of London, a knight of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, and an officer of the Order of Christopher Columbus (Dominican Republic).

Lutz is currently a professor of theatre at UE. He is the longest serving faculty member in the history of the University, and served for 31 years as the chair of its nationally recognized Department of Theatre.

He graduated in 1964 from UE, then known as Evansville College. Lutz earned a Master of Arts degree from the University of Denver and returned to UE in 1965 as an instructor and technical director. He later earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of New Orleans.

Lutz has directed over 75 UE theatre productions. During UE’s years of participating in the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival, 32 UE productions were invited to perform at regional festivals. Lutz directed 24 of them. In addition, eight UE productions were invited to the national festival – Lutz directed six of them.

Lutz’s awards include: 1982 UE Medal of Honor, 1984 KC/ACTF Gold Medallion, 1987 Berger Award for Outstanding Creative Artist, 1994 Evansville Mayor’s Arts Award for Arts Educator of the Year, 1995 Indiana Governor’s Award for Arts Educator of the Year, 2005 Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana’s Mayor’s Arts Award, 2007 induction into the College of Fellows of the American Theatre, 2012 KC/ACTF Outstanding Career Achievement in Directing, and 2014 UE Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

For those who cannot attend Commencement in person, a video of the ceremony will stream live online at The recorded video will be posted on this page the week after Commencement.

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