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St. Norbert College Announces Commencement Speaker, Honorary Degrees

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From St. Norbert College, April 30, 2018
by Mike Counter,, 920-403-3089

Dr. John R. Raymond Sr., president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), will be the St. Norbert College commencement speaker on Sunday, May 13, at 1:30 p.m., in the Mulva Family Fitness & Sports Center on the college’s De Pere campus. Raymond will also receive an honorary degree, as will Dudley Birder, artistic director of the Dudley Birder Chorale, who will retire from the college on June 1. Livestreaming of commencement events from St. Norbert College will be available at:

Mike Van Asten, chair of the St. Norbert College Board of Trustees, will authorize the conferring of master’s and baccalaureate degrees; St. Norbert College President Brian Bruess will award the degrees and diplomas with the assistance of Jeffrey Frick, dean of the college and academic vice president. There are 469 students in the 2018 graduating class, including 431 candidates for baccalaureate degrees and 38 candidates for master’s degrees, which includes 31 from the Master of Business Administration (MBA) class.
The Rt. Rev. Dane Radecki, O.Praem., abbot of St. Norbert Abbey, will deliver the commencement prayer.

The student speakers at commencement are graduating senior Benjamin Paplham of De Pere, Wis., and MBA graduate Janet Servais of De Pere, Wis.

The national anthem will be sung by graduating senior Hannah Knutson of Greeneville, Tenn., with graduating senior Emily Brewer of Fond du Lac, Wis., serving as student honor conductor.

Commencement Speaker

Dr. John Raymond Sr. assumed the position as MCW’s sixth president in July 2010. He was previously vice president for academic affairs and provost at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC).
As MCW’s president and CEO, Raymond leads Wisconsin’s only private medical school, which has an operating budget of approximately $1.1 billion. More than one out of every three Wisconsin physicians is an alumnus of MCW. With approximately 5,650 faculty and staff members, MCW is the eighth largest private employer in Metro Milwaukee.

Under Raymond’s leadership, MCW is addressing Wisconsin’s pending physician shortage through the establishment of regional medical school campuses and is training the pharmacists of the future with a new school of pharmacy. The Medical College of Wisconsin-Green Bay, based at St. Norbert College, matriculated its first class of students in July 2015, and MCW-Central Wisconsin in Wausau, Wis. followed suit in July 2016. MCW’s inaugural pharmacy class matriculated in August 2017.

A practicing nephrologist who plays active roles in clinical care, teaching and faculty mentorship, Raymond also is a medical researcher studying the basic mechanisms of kidney cell function. He has published more than 140 full-length manuscripts and earned nearly $40 million in grant funding over the course of his career.
He received his undergraduate and medical degrees with honors from the Ohio State University, and performed his internship, residency, chief residency and nephrology fellowship training at Duke University Medical Center. After completing his training, he joined Duke’s faculty where he rose through the ranks to attain tenure.

Raymond is a member of the boards of directors of the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and the BloodCenter of Wisconsin’s Blood Research Institute. He is the past president of the board of the American Heart Association of Metro Milwaukee and served as chairman of the American Heart Association’s 2011 Milwaukee Heart Walk.

Among Raymond’s many honors are awards for excellence in leadership, research, mentorship, service, diversity, teaching and clinical care.
Honorary Degree to Be Awarded to Dudley Birder

Dudley Birder began his teaching career at St. Norbert in 1958. He retired from his academic duties in 1993. During his tenure at the college, Birder founded and, for 34 years, directed the Chamber Singers and the Swinging Knights.
He made his Carnegie Hall debut in 1990 and returned five times. Since 1997, he appeared as conductor for the annual "Holiday Pops" at the Weidner Center in Green Bay, Wis. Dudley Birder Hall, a first-class music facility on the St. Norbert College campus, was named in his honor in 2013. The college awarded Birder the President’s Medal in 1999 "for his dedication to his art and service to the community."

In July 2017, Birder, named "The Music Man" by local media, stepped down from Summer Music Theatre at St. Norbert College after a 55-year run.
Birder, artistic director of the Dudley Birder Chorale at St. Norbert College, will officially retire as director of the chorale effective June 1. Birder founded the chorale at St. Norbert in 1974.
The chorale board voted to name Birder artistic director emeritus of the Dudley Birder Chorale.
For more information on St. Norbert College’s commencement, including livestreaming, go to

St. Norbert College History

The only Norbertine college in the world, St. Norbert is a four-year, Catholic liberal arts institution nestled beside the Fox River in De Pere, Wis., neighboring Green Bay. Founded in 1898, the college became coeducational in 1952. Today, the residential campus serves approximately 2,200 undergraduate and graduate students, hailing from throughout the United States and nearly 20 countries.

Recent years have seen record enrollments and unprecedented investments in the St. Norbert campus. The academic excellence of the college is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Princeton Review and others.

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