Christian Wiman, editor of Poetry magazine, will deliver the address June 11 at the 146th Commencement ceremony of North Central College, which is celebrating the Sesquicentennial of its founding in 1861.
Honorary degrees will be awarded to Brenda Barnes, former chief executive of Sara Lee Corporation; Roger Hruby, a business leader and entrepreneur; and Myron Wentz, a scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and best-selling author. Hruby and Wentz are alumni of North Central College.
The Commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 11, is expected to draw more than 5,000 parents, alumni and visitors to North Central’s Residence Hall/Recreation Center, 440 S. Brainard St., Naperville. Tickets are not required but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis so guests are encouraged to arrive early. A procession begins at 9:40 a.m.
North Central College’s class of 2011 features approximately 550 undergraduate and 125 graduate students. Graduates hail from 20 different states and territories and 18 different countries. The top areas of study by number of graduates include marketing, management, elementary education, psychology and finance.
Wiman is editor of Poetry magazine, which is celebrating its 100th year and recently was awarded a prestigious 2011 National Magazine Award for General Excellence. Poetry magazine is supported by the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation and throughout its history has published works by major English-speaking poets while presenting emerging talents. A native of West Texas, Wiman is a graduate of Washington and Lee University and has taught at Northwestern University, Lynchburg College in Virginia and the Prague School of Economics. At Stanford University, he was a Jones Lecturer in Poetry and next year he will be a visiting lecturer at the Yale Divinity School.
In addition to his position as an editor, Wiman is a highly regarded author of three collections of poetry: “The Long Home,” “The Hard Night” and “Every Riven Thing,” and a book of essays titled “Ambition and Survival: Becoming A Poet.” His poems, criticism and personal essays appear widely in such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker.
Barnes, of Naperville, serves as an inspirational role model for women balancing family and career. Prior to her resignation in August 2010 to recover her health following a stroke, Barnes was chair and chief executive officer of Downers Grove-based Sara Lee Corporation. Her experience includes roles at Wilson Sporting Goods, Frito Lay and PepsiCo, where she was named the first female CEO. Barnes left PepsiCo in 1997 to spend time with her three children and moved to Naperville to be closer to her extended family.
She served as interim president and COO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts and as an adjunct professor at North Central College and Northwestern University. In 2004 she joined Sara Lee Corp. as president and chief operating officer, later becoming CEO and chair. She ranked among the top 10 of Forbes’ most powerful women. A graduate of Augustana College, Barnes is or has been on the board of directors of Avon Products, Augustana, LucasFilm, The New York Times, Pepsi, Sara Lee, Sears, Roebuck & Co. and Staples. She has been a generous corporate and personal contributor to North Central College.
Hruby, a life trustee and 1958 graduate of North Central College, is widely recognized as a business leader and entrepreneur. Using his chemistry major from North Central and business acumen, he founded and chaired CFC International, Inc., a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of holographics and specialty coatings. He earned an M.B.A. from the University of Chicago and in 1998 became a member of the Entrepreneurial Hall of Fame in the Chicago area.
Hruby and his wife Nadeane are Naperville residents who have generously supported the College with a scholarship fund to help working undergraduates and assist part-time students; a gift for a state-of-the-art computer lab in Meiley-Swallow Hall; and by endowing a chair, the Roger and Nadeane Hruby Professor in the Liberal Arts and Sciences, now held by Stephen D. Johnston, associate professor of biology. Hruby’s three years as chair of the Board of Trustees (2004-2007) were marked by the opening of the Rolland Center Boilerhouse Café, the renovation of Kiekhofer Hall and Koten Chapel, and the realization of long-held dreams to add fine arts facilities to campus. He assumed a leadership role in helping the College achieve its fundraising goal for the Wentz Center Hall and Fine Arts Center. At Commencement in 2007, Hruby was honored with the Gael D. Swing Award for Meritorious Service.
Wentz, a 1963 graduate and honorary trustee of North Central College, is known for his leadership in science, nutrition, entrepreneurship, philanthropy and now, as a bestselling author. Wentz graduated with a degree in biology from North Central College and earned a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Utah. He founded Gull Laboratories in Salt Lake City to answer the need for better medical diagnostic tests. He sold the company 20 years later and founded USANA Health Sciences. Wentz also established Sanoviv Medical Institute, a health and wellness center in Mexico. He has been inspired to address children’s medical needs in Uganda and Cambodia.
Most recently, Dr. Wentz and his son David, chief executive officer of USANA Health Sciences, have authored and promoted a book, “The Healthy Home,” a New York Times bestseller. The proceeds from the book will go to the Children’s Hunger Fund, which distributes food and other resources to children in impoverished communities worldwide.
Honored by North Central with an Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2003, Wentz accepted the award via a phone connection from Taipei, Taiwan, and officially announced his gift commitment toward a new Fine Arts Center. Five years later, he stood on the stage of the magnificent new Wentz Concert Hall to cut the ribbon. His gifts of foresight, generosity and leadership will forever be ingrained in the fabric of North Central College.
For more information about Commencement activities, visit https://northcentralcollege.edu/content/commencement or contact the North Central College Office of Alumni Relations at 630-637-5200.
Founded in 1861 and celebrating its Sesquicentennial in 2011, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes. Visit northcentralcollege.edu to learn more.