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St. Norbert College Announces Commencement Details

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From St. Norbert College, April 26, 2017
by Mike Counter,, 920-403-3089

Thomas Kunkel, outgoing president at St. Norbert College, will be the commencement speaker on Sunday, May 14, at 1:30 p.m., in the new Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on the college's De Pere campus. Kunkel and his wife, Deb, will receive honorary degrees, as will James and Miriam Mulva.

Mike Van Asten, vice 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 479 students in the 2017 graduating class, including 460 candidates for baccalaureate degrees and 19 candidates for master's degrees, which includes 12 from the inaugural Master of Business Administration (MBA) class.

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

The student speakers at commencement are graduating senior Kathryn Sauter of Appleton, Wis. and MBA graduate Emily Schutte of Green Bay.

The national anthem will be sung by graduating senior Ben Behnke of Kiel, Wis., with graduating senior Emma Philipps of Kewaunee, Wis., serving as student honor conductor.

Commencement Speaker

Thomas Kunkel will retire as president of St. Norbert College on May 31, when he will have served nine years in the position.

Kunkel, who also authored the recent critically acclaimed biography "Man in Profile: Joseph Mitchell of The New Yorker," will continue his writing career after the presidency, and he intends for his first project to be a "short and accessible" biography of the college's namesake and patron, St. Norbert of Xanten.
Kunkel is a member of the Green Bay Packers Board of Directors and Associated Bank's regional advisory board. For three years he served as chairman of the President's Council of the Midwest Conference. He is on the boards of the New North and Achieve Brown County, and he is active in numerous other community groups.

Before coming to St. Norbert, Kunkel served for eight years as dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, where he also served as president of the American Journalism Review and as editor and director of the Project on the State of the American Newspaper.

Kunkel spent much of his early career in newspaper management, working for such organizations as the San Jose Mercury News, the Miami Herald, The New York Times and The Cincinnati Post.

In addition to "Man in Profile," Kunkel is the author or editor of six books.

Honorary Degrees to be Awarded

St. Norbert College will recognize Thomas (Tom) and Deborah (Deb) Kunkel with honorary degrees for their deep and enduring commitment and devotion to serving the college and our local, regional and state-wide communities.

Under Tom Kunkel's leadership, nearly $150 million has been generated for building projects and, with such donations, the college has undergone a striking physical transformation. President Kunkel has overseen the construction and renovation of the Ariens Family Welcome Center, the Cassandra Voss Center, Gehl-Mulva Science Center, Gries Hall, Michels Commons, Dudley Birder Hall, the Mulva Library, Mel Nicks Sports Complex, Schneider Stadium, Todd Wehr Hall, and most recently, the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center.
Within the academic arena, Tom presided over the introduction of the Master of Business Administration and Master of Arts in Liberal Studies graduate programs; a pioneering partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin; the adoption and implementation of the new core education curriculum; the establishment of the distinctive Gap Experience Program; and a successful "Campaign St. Norbert: Full Ahead" fundraising drive that raised $106 million in one less year than anticipated. Since Tom's arrival, the undergraduate enrollment has seen a 7 percent increase. The student-of- color enrollment has more than doubled and graduate student enrollment has witnessed a 60 percent increase including the graduates from the inaugural MBA class graduating on May 14.

Under Kunkel's vision, the college inaugurated SNC Day, which occurs each September. This campus-wide open house includes myriad activities and ensures that members of the community feel welcome and a part of the campus.

Regarding his community involvement, Tom served on the boards of no fewer than nine local and regional organizations.

A central focus of Deb Kunkel's distinguished service to the St. Norbert College community has been to champion the social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of children, especially girls and young women. At Deb's initiative, the Girls Leadership and Development (GLAD), Boys Leadership and Development (BOLD), and GLADU programs were launched. These youth outreach programs stress the importance of developing confidence and self-esteem and build leadership skills. Since its inception, nearly 2,100 of the area's young women have attended GLAD Camp and 600 boys have participated in BOLD Camp.

Deb became connected to Encompass Early Education and Care in 2009 and served until 2015. The mission of Encompass is to educate and care for all children, regardless of family or economic circumstances. Deb was instrumental in recruiting student and staff volunteers from St. Norbert to help with the "Big Event for Little Kids," the annual Encompass fundraiser, which has raised $450,000 to support early education and care for all children.

Deb was an active and valued member of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes Board of Directors from 2013 to 2016. During that time, she helped lead the organization through significant change and progress. In addition to being a board member, Deb served on several committees including the board development and advocacy committee. Deb also was actively involved in fundraising and graciously hosted "friend raisers," which helped spread the message of leadership to girls throughout the region.

The Mulvas

St. Norbert College will also honor James J. and Miriam B. Mulva with honorary degrees for their many contributions to St. Norbert College and the community.

Miriam Mulva, born Miriam Brozyna, grew up close to the college's campus, attended St. Joseph Academy in Green Bay, and graduated from St. Norbert in 1969. She is an active volunteer and a member of the college's board of trustees.

James Mulva is also a De Pere native, whose mother, Phyllis Mulva Martine, worked on the library staff at St. Norbert College. James earned bachelor's and master's degrees in finance from the University of Texas at Austin. A former naval officer, he recently retired as chairman and CEO of ConocoPhillips, headquartered in Houston, Texas. James serves on the boards of General Electric, General Motors, Green Bay Packaging and the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, among others.

The Mulvas' naming gift of the Miriam B. and James J. Mulva Library marked a defining moment for the college. That library, along with the Gehl-Mulva Science Center and, most recently, the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center, have provided not only spectacular brick-and-mortar additions to the campus, but boundless opportunities for present and future generations of St. Norbert College students.

Through their additional generosity in the form of scholarships, support of faculty and staff development, and enhancements to the campus grounds and resources, the Mulvas have only furthered their profound impact on the college's pursuit of its mission and vision.

"Jim and Miriam's passion and generosity have been crucial to making this an exemplary 21st-century college campus," said St. Norbert College President Thomas Kunkel.

The Mulva Family Legacy at St. Norbert College

Miriam and Jim Mulva have not only been extraordinarily generous to St. Norbert College; they have contributed more money to the school than any other individuals in its history. Key gifts include:

$11 million for the Mulva Library, which included $1 million for the Mulva Studio, a contemporary, technology-enhanced study space in the facility's lower level. The library opened in 2009.
$12 million for the spectacular Gehl-Mulva Science Center, which was completed in 2015 and which also houses the Green Bay-area campus of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
$13 million for the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center.

Beyond that, the Mulvas (and their charitable affiliations) have provided more than $2 million in support of scholarships, the college's annual fund, campus sculpture, staff development and other priorities. In all, the Mulvas have contributed more than $38 million to St. Norbert College.

"Many generations of future students will find their way to St. Norbert College, and every one of them will be in debt to Jim and Miriam," said President Kunkel. "Their commitment to St. Norbert ensures that, for many years to come, we will be offering a first-class educational experience grounded in our Catholic, Norbertine and liberal arts values."

For more information on St. Norbert College's commencement, including live streaming, go to

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