The University of Findlay will hold spring commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 5, in the Koehler Complex. The graduate ceremony will begin at 9 a.m., and the undergraduate ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. No tickets are necessary to attend the ceremonies. Approximately 675 degrees, including doctoral, master’s, bachelor’s and associate’s, will be awarded.
The University will welcome two guest speakers. Gregory J. Denecker ’94 will be the speaker for the graduate commencement ceremony, and Julius Coles will be the speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. Denecker is the superintendent of Bluffton (Ohio) Exempted Village Schools, a district that has achieved “Excellent with Distinction” status in the Ohio Department of Education’s report card ratings by meeting 100 percent of the state indicators for the past six years.
Denecker began his career in education teaching social studies and coaching varsity boys’ basketball for five years at Allen East High School in Allen County, Ohio. He completed a master’s degree in educational administration and earned a principal’s certificate from Bowling Green State University in 1997. He returned to UF, where he completed course work toward obtaining his superintendent’s license in 1999. He served as principal for Arcadia High School for a year during 1999-2000 before being named principal at Bluffton High School, where he served seven years. In 2007, he was chosen as superintendent of Bluffton Schools, where he continues to lead the district.
Denecker is active in Lions Club and the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce and serves as president of Northwest Ohio School Administrators.
He is married to Christine M. Denecker, Ph.D., associate professor of English at The University of Findlay. They reside in Bluffton and have two sons, Gabriel and Luke.
Coles is director of the Andrew Young Center for International Affairs and its Office of Global Education at Morehouse College, returning to a post that he also held from 1997 until 2002. He is president emeritus of Africare, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting African nations improve their quality of life, which he served from 2002 to 2009. He also was director of the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University from 1994 until 1997. He spent 28 years with the U.S. Agency for International Development, where he held responsibilities for Vietnam, Morocco, Liberia, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Swaziland, before serving as a director with the Bureau for Africa. He retired in 1994 as mission director for Senegal, with the rank of Career Minister, the highest rank in the elite core of Senior Foreign Service officers.
A graduate of Morehouse College, Coles earned a master of public affairs degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Among his many honors, he has received the Princeton-in-Africa Lifetime Achievement Award (2009), Princeton University; the Amistad Achievement Award (2003); the Distinguished Career Service Award (1995); and was decorated as a Commander in the National Order of the Lion by President Diouf of Senegal (1994).
The University’s traditional Arch Ceremony will immediately follow both the graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies at approximately 10:15 a.m. and 3:15 p.m., respectively, at the Griffith Memorial Arch. The Arch is named for Caddie A. Griffith, Class of 1909. She headed the Findlay College department of English in 1914-16 and 1917-18, before going on to serve as dean of women at Franklin College, Indiana, and Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio. She died in 1923.