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St. Norbert College Commencement 2014

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From St. Norbert College, May 2, 2014
by Mike Counter,, 920-403-3089

Chris Ayers (pronounced "airs"), a popular Hollywood character designer, digital artist, author and illustrator, will be St. Norbert College's commencement speaker on Sunday, May 18, 2014, at 1:30 p.m. in Schuldes Sports Center on the college's De Pere campus. Ayers 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 524 students in the 2014 graduating class, including 516 candidates for baccalaureate degrees and 8 candidates for master's degrees.

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

The student speaker at commencement is graduating senior Abby Gildernick of De Pere, Wis. A member of social/service organization CCHams, Abby has also been communication coordinator for the Student Government Association and served as the college's Norby Knight mascot. She has played on the softball team all four years, was student coach for the women's basketball program, and served on the SGA's athletic committee. During the fall of her senior year, Abby studied at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Brisbane, Australia. She is graduating with a degree in communications and a minor in leadership. After graduation, Abby will be doing a graduate assistantship for basketball or softball at a university still to be determined, while pursuing a master's degree in sports management.

The national anthem will be sung by graduating senior Clara Rose of Milwaukee, Wis., with graduating senior Taylor Jadin of Algoma, Wis., serving as student honor conductor.
The college will present Bob and Carol Bush a joint honorary doctoral degree at this year's commencement for their outstanding contributions to St. Norbert College and the greater Green Bay community, particularly in the area of athletics and the arts. Chris Ayers, the speaker, will be awarded the President's Medal.
Bob and Carol Bush are generous with their time and resources. Both have a long history of commitment to education from early childhood through college and university education. Bob served on the board of trustees of St. Norbert College from 1984-1989, and Carol served on the board from 2002-2013.

Bob's career spanned fifty-three years at Schreiber Foods Corporation, where he served as president, CEO and finally chairman of the board; he continues to serve on the board of directors. His leadership was marked by company growth and technical and scientific advances in the manufacture of cheese. Bob holds patents for machinery that helped to revolutionize the cheese industry.
Carol's name is virtually synonymous with early childhood care and education in the region. For many years Carol served on the board of directors of Encompass Early Education and Childcare, where she invented many of the most successful Encompass fundraising programs. She believes that every child should enjoy the advantages that make healthy growth and development possible.

The Bush's are strong supporters of music, the visual and performing arts in the community, region and country. The art building at St. Norbert College is named for them.

Chris Ayers is a 1997 graduate of St. Norbert College. His first work in movie design was on the film "Bubble Boy" in 2000. Ayers' vivid imagination has created a diverse menagerie of animals, creatures and characters that have been featured in twenty-six major motion pictures, and he has written four books, the most recent being "The Daily Zoo Goes to Paris!" (July 2012). The "Daily Zoo" books were created as a result of Ayers' fight with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML, a cancer of the blood) in 2005. As a cancer survivor, Chris donates a portion of his book sales to cancer-related charities and research.

Ayers other film credits include "The Penguins of Madagascar," "Men in Black II," "Austin Powers in Goldmember," "The Santa Clause 2," "Star Trek XI," "Incredible Hulk" and "Zookeeper."

To learn more about Chris Ayers, go to

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