Posse founder and president to deliver commencement address

Linnea Kedziora

Contributing Writer

The College of Wooster has announced that Deborah Bial, founder and president of the Posse Foundation, will deliver this year’s commencement address  on Monday, May 13. She will also be receiving an honorary degree from The College of Wooster to add to her undergraduate from Brandeis University, Master’s degree and Ed.D from Harvard as well as honorary degrees from Agnes Scott College, Brandeis University, Carleton College, Centre College, Colby College, Hamilton College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and Mount Holyoke College, in addition to her impending honor from The College of Wooster.

Bial has impacted The College of Wooster through her work with the Posse Foundation, a group that provides underprivileged teens that demonstrate leadership potential with scholarships that enable them to pursue higher education. Bial has had a relationship with Wooster through the Posse Foundation since 2008; according to President Bolton, The College of Wooster has since welcomed 11 Posse cohorts as recently as in the class of 2022.

Bolton also states that these scholars have contributed greatly to the campus community by serving leadership roles on campus organizations as well as helping spark movements to diversify campus.

On a nationwide scale, the Posse Foundation website announces that it has given 1.4 billion dollars in scholarships to students, 57 percent of which were first generation college students from 10 different cities nationwide, sending them to 57 institutions, one of which is The College of Wooster.

Hugh Howard reported on Wooster’s website that the organization is titled “Posse” because it provides a support system for students entering college by matching them with groups of their peers that are also utilizing program and coming from similar situations. The intent is that Posse scholars will not feel isolated on their respective campuses.

The program maintains a 90 percent graduation rate that, according to the Posse website, is a considerable record compared to the nationwide graduation rate of 59 percent. According to President Bolton, The College of Wooster is honored to present Bial with an honorary degree because of her contribution to campus diversity on not only the Wooster campus, but also many other campuses across the nation. Furthermore, Bial’s work has provided opportunity for thousands of talented students to receive a quality education, enabling them to fully explore useful skills, with a focus on encouraging leadership.

President Bolton cites the Posse Foundation’s impact on college accessibility and chances of success for lower-income students as some of the main reasons why the College looks to her example and is excited to welcome Deborah Bile to campus for the commencement program in the spring.

“It is a privilege and an honor to be invited to give the commencement address at Wooster,” Bial said. “For more than 10 years, Wooster has been welcoming Posse Scholars to campus and providing them with a first-rate education.”

Bial added, “I want this class to know how important they are. They inherit a country, a world with tremendous challenges — challenges related to race, class, gender and political discord. [But] I know they will meet the challenges head-on and that should give us all hope.”