Before the Class of 2023 caps their undergraduate education at Gettysburg College and sets out on their own consequential journeys, they will have an opportunity to hear about the incredible accomplishments of current alumni and friends of the College who will receive some of the institution’s top individual honors, including honorary degrees, the Lavern H. Brenneman ’36 Award, and Distinguished Alumni Awards during Commencement Weekend on May 12-13.
During the Commencement Ceremony on May 13, the College will bestow two honorary degrees on Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and businessperson and long-time supporter of the College Jack Hewes P’01. Deputy Secretary Sherman, who is serving as Commencement speaker, will receive a Doctorate of Public Service, while Hewes will receive a Doctorate of Science in Business Administration.
Deputy Secretary Sherman has maintained a long and distinguished career in community work and public service going back to her days as a community organizer, social worker, and Director of Child Welfare for the State of Maryland, and extending through a wide range of roles in government. She has served under three U.S. Presidents and five Secretaries of State, and she was the first woman named Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs and Deputy Secretary of State. In 2015, she was awarded the National Security Medal by President Barack Obama.
Hewes will be honored for his more than two decades of support to the College and his contributions to the finance field. He served as the senior executive vice president and chief lending officer at SLM Corporation (Sallie Mae) and led the company’s transition from a government-focused business to a consumer-lending enterprise. When his daughter, Katie Hewes Bailer ’01, came to Gettysburg, Hewes sat on both the executive board of the Parents’ Association and the Board of Trustees, and was also the chair of the Parents Fund committee. Hewes and his wife Nancy, who are members of Gettysburg’s Benefactors Circle, have been selfless supporters of the institution and have impacted students through giving toward the Science Center, John F. Jaeger Center for Athletics, Recreation, and Fitness, Orange and Blue Club, Gettysburg Fund, and financial aid.
“To be recognized as an honorary degree recipient at Gettysburg College, the recipient has demonstrated significant and highly respected achievements in their lives, including both professional and personal achievements,” said Gettysburg Provost Chris Zappe. “Furthermore, honorary degree recipients at Gettysburg College are recognized for their character, humility, generosity, and commitment to the greater good.”
Also during the Commencement Ceremony, former Harvard University Senior Associate Director of Athletics Patricia Henry ’71 will be presented with the Lavern H. Brenneman ’36 Award for Exemplary Service. Selected by the Alumni Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees, Henry retired in 2019 after leading the largest Division I varsity athletics program in the nation for four decades. She was instrumental in the success and well-being of 42 varsity teams, while strongly advocating for the department’s operating philosophy of offering broad-based programs and “Athletics for All.”
A 1987 inductee into Gettysburg’s Hall of Honor, Henry competed in both field hockey and basketball at Gettysburg while majoring in health and physical education. She has been a consistent and ardent supporter of the Orange and Blue through the years, supporting endowed scholarships for students and facilities and serving on the Board of Trustees from 1993-2007. Henry also served as the keynote speaker for the 2010 NCAA Division II and III Women’s Lacrosse Championships hosted at Gettysburg. In the fall of 2022, Henry was given the Nike Lifetime Achievement Award by Women Leaders in College Sports.
“Looking at the list of recipients of the Brenneman Award is truly inspiring, as all are people who have selflessly dedicated a lifetime of service to Gettysburg College,” said Executive Director of Alumni Relations Joe Lynch ’85. “They have committed themselves to making Gettysburg an even better place for those who follow in their footsteps, and I find that incredibly admirable. Their devotion to Gettysburg is exemplary and unmatched.”
On Friday, May 12, the day before the Commencement Ceremony, four Gettysburgians will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards for their professional and/or civic accomplishments after graduating from Gettysburg. This year’s selections are Lancaster Court of Common Pleas President Judge and Drug Court founder David Ashworth ’77 P’06, President of U.S. Networks Distribution at Paramount Global (formerly Viacom/CBS) Ray Hopkins ’87, St. Peter’s Church jazz pastor emeritus Dale Lind ’60, and Achieva Vice President Nancy Jess Murray ’75, who is also President of The Arc of Greater Pittsburgh.
“The Distinguished Alumni Awards are like our alumni ‘Hall of Fame’ for professional and humanitarian achievement, and it’s fascinating to see the expansive breadth of careers in which our graduates go out and find success and make an impact,” noted Lynch. “When you look at the backgrounds of the winners of this award over the past 61 years, there really is no field in which Gettysburgians have not made a significant mark.”
This year’s Commencement exercises will take place rain or shine on Saturday, May 13, beginning at 11 a.m. on the Beachem Portico on the north side of Pennsylvania Hall. For more information about Commencement for the Class of 2023, please visit the Commencement website.
By Corey Jewart
Photos courtesy Shawna Sherrell, Jason Minick