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St. Norbert College Announces Commencement Speaker, Honorary Degrees

From St. Norbert College, May 4, 2015
by Mike Counter, mike.counter@snc.edu, 920-403-3089

Marti Wronski, vice president and general counsel for the Milwaukee Brewers, will be St. Norbert College's commencement speaker on Sunday, May 17, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. in the Schuldes Sports Center on the college's De Pere campus. Wronski will also receive the President's Medal.

Jay Williams, chair of the St. Norbert College board of trustees, will authorize the conferring of master's and baccalaureate degrees; St. Norbert College president Thomas Kunkel will award the degrees and diplomas with the assistance of Jeffrey Frick, dean of the college and academic vice president. There are 487 students in the 2015 graduating class, including 482 candidates for baccalaureate degrees and 5 candidates for master's degrees.

The Right Rev. Gary J. Neville, O.Praem., abbot, St. Norbert Abbey, will deliver the benediction.

The student speakers at commencement are graduating seniors Alex Clemetson of Flossmoor, Ill. and Akeem Edmonds of Chicago, Ill.

The national anthem will be sung by graduating senior Natasha Behnke of Kiel, Wis., with graduating senior Jennah Smet of Green Bay, Wis., serving as student honor conductor.

Honorary Degrees to Be Awarded

The college will present Benjamin Chu, Ph.D., a 1955 graduate of St. Norbert College, an honorary doctoral degree at this year's commencement for his exemplary professional accomplishments and his dedication to his alma mater.

Abbot Joel Garner, O. Praem., will receive an honorary degree for his creative ministerial leadership, his commitment to furthering theological education, his steadfast commitment to the church, and his selfless service to the Norbertine order and to St. Norbert College.

Marti Wronski, the speaker, will be awarded the President's Medal.

Benjamin Chu received a full scholarship from St. Norbert College and completed the degree requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1955. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. from Cornell University, where he received a post-doctoral fellowship in chemical physics. Chu joined the University of Kansas as assistant professor of chemistry in 1962 and moved to the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1968. He currently holds the rank of distinguished professor at Stony Brook.

During his more than 50 years as an academic scientist, Ben Chu has become an internationally recognized authority in physical chemistry, polymer physics and material science. His research interests have covered topics ranging from the first light-scattering characterization of Teflon, to the measurements of the mobility of large DNA fragments in electrophoresis.

Ben's research career has generated 18 patents, 60 invited research review articles and more than 580 peer-reviewed publications.

Abbot Joel Garner's connection to St. Norbert College and the Norbertine order is a long and storied one. Abbot Garner graduated from Premontre High School in 1958 and enrolled at St. Norbert College, graduating cum laude four years later. He was ordained in 1965 and attended Marquette University where he earned a graduate degree in theology. He later studied at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary in New York, earning a doctorate in religion and education in 1972.

Abbot Joel joined the St. Norbert College faculty in 1967 and was the founding pastor of St. Norbert College Parish. From 1970 to 1985, under Abbot Garner's innovative leadership, the Theological Institute came to be nationally known as an educational opportunity for ongoing theological education.

In 1983, Abbot Joel had an experience that would once again kindle and challenge his imagination to re-envision his view of the church and his ministry. During a sabbatical year in which he traveled extensively abroad, Abbot Garner experienced firsthand the universality of the church and the power of the Gospel to find new and vibrant ways of expression in diverse cultural and economic contexts.

Abbot Garner left northeastern Wisconsin with four other Norbertines to begin a new community in New Mexico. In 2012, Santa Maria de la Vid was elevated to the status of an abbey and Abbot Garner was installed as the first abbot.

He has been a member of the board of trustees at St. Norbert for more than 27 years and serves as chair of the academic committee. This year marks Abbot Garner's 50th anniversary of ordination.

Marti Wronski, a native of Neenah, Wis., graduated summa cum laude from St. Norbert College in 1994 and from the University of Wisconsin Law School with high honors in 1997.

After graduation, Marti joined Foley & Lardner LLP in Milwaukee as an associate in the litigation department. She spent five years at Foley before joining Marquette University Law School as an assistant professor in 2002. Marti has since served as an adjunct professor at Marquette University, conducting seminars on sports law and the business of professional sports in the law school and the business school.

In 2003, Wronski joined the Milwaukee Brewers organization. She is now in her 12th season with the Brewers, her ninth as vice president and general counsel. In her role, she oversees all legal and contract work, including negotiating players' and coaches' contracts, addressing grievances, and overseeing compliance and safety at Miller Park.

In June 2006, Marti was selected as a Woman of Influence by the Milwaukee Business Journal. In 2010, she was named to the Business Journal's 40 Under 40 list, and in 2011 she was selected by the Business Journal as one of Milwaukee's Top Corporate Counsels.

Marti has numerous memberships and affiliations with local and national legal, charitable, and professional organizations and communities. She sits on the board of directors of the Betty Brinn Children's Museum and Make-A-Wish of Wisconsin, as well as the St. Norbert College Board of Trustees. Marti speaks frequently on the business of major league baseball and the workplace opportunities and challenges faced by female executives.

Additionally, in 2011, Marti and her husband, Andy, began working with two other couples to create the first Miracle League, an accessible little-league program for children with disabilities, in the greater Milwaukee area. Miracle League of Milwaukee had its grand opening in 2012. Marti also sits on the league's board of directors.

Most recently, Marti and her family adopted the Milwaukee Brewers' newest official mascot, Hank, the ballpark pup, and have continued their charitable outreach work with and through Hank.