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Commencement speaker, honorees announced

Claire Montgomery
Contributing Writer

The College has announced Eboo Patel as the speaker for the 2018 commencement ceremony. Furthermore, two honorary degrees are to be awarded to Betsy Hearne ’64 and Hayden Schilling, the former Robert Critchfield Professor of English History at Wooster. The ceremony will take place on Monday, May 14, and will be the College’s 148th commencement.

Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core, a non-profit organization based in Chicago that strives to bring together young people of different faiths around service and dialogue. Patel also served on the advisory council of President Barack Obama’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Furthermore, Patel lectured at The College of Wooster’s Spring Academy of Religion Series during the 2009-10 academic year.

“Dr. Patel is an extraordinary person, who has built his life around increasing understanding [and] has engaged people in difficult but profoundly important conversations both in the U.S. and around the world,” President Sarah Bolton said. “I anticipate that he will call all of those gathered at commencement — graduates, faculty and staff, family and friends — to consider their own beliefs and perspectives, and the ways we can each act to create a better world and fuller understanding both within and among communities. Because he has engaged in this work for so long and is so passionate about it, he will likely share some things that have gone well [and] some challenges along the way, and that all will leave both inspired and with new tools in mind for bringing people together.”

When asked about the two recipients of the honorary degrees, Bolton said that they had earned the awards through long histories of work for the College community.

“Dr. Schilling has been a legend at Wooster, dedicating his life to our students both on the tennis court and in the history classroom, and serving in a wide variety of administrative roles as well, with extraordinary grace and success,” Bolton said. “Dr. Hearne is an alumna of the College, who has made her life’s work in connecting children with books that will be powerful in their lives. She has done this both as an author and in the university setting.”

Hearne is the author of several books, such as Seven Brave Women for which she won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Hearne is also a professor emerita in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She also served as the director of The Center for Children’s Books while at Illinois. When she studied at Wooster she was a history major.

Schilling joined the Wooster faculty in 1964 and taught for 51 years, and in 1982 was appointed as the Robert Critchfield Professor of English History. He advised more than 200 Independent Study projects, and also coached men’s tennis for 34 seasons, leading them to four North Coast Athletic Conference championships.

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