More than 700 doctoral and master’s students received their degrees at La Salle University’s first graduate commencement ceremony in more than 30 years on Friday, May 18, 2012. It was the first University-wide graduate Commencement ceremony in La Salle’s history.
Traditionally, La Salle University held one joint graduation ceremony for its undergraduate and graduate students. There are only two known previous graduate ceremonies in La Salle’s history. In 1953, the first-ever La Salle master’s degree recipients in the Religion program held a separate ceremony for its seven graduates, and in 1978, there was a separate ceremony for the first 11 members of the first MBA graduating class.
“The decision to have a separate ceremony is based on a recommendation of the University’s Commencement Committee, which considered the factors of the growth of La Salle’s graduate programs and the length of the combined Commencement Ceremony,” said Brother Michael J. McGinniss, F.S.C., Ph.D., President of La Salle University. “A graduate ceremony also makes it possible to customize the event with speakers and a program that apply specifically to graduate students.
One of the speakers was James Grogan, Sr., who was selected by a faculty and staff committee to be the inaugural graduate student Commencement speaker. Grogan, who is a Senior Director with SunGard Availability Services’ marketing group in Philadelphia, received his Master’s degree in Theology and Ministry.
Unlike most students who pursue a graduate degree for professional growth, Grogan, already with a master’s degree under his belt, enrolled in La Salle’s Theology and Ministry program to further his vocation as an ordained permanent deacon.
“My graduate work at La Salle is completely unrelated to my professional career,” said Grogan, a resident of Mount Laurel, N.J. “I started at La Salle because I wanted to get deeper into my ministry. I am passionate about theology and my coursework and research has been extremely useful and timely as I can apply it directly to my diaconate ministry.”
Grogan said he was humbled when he learned he was selected as the graduate student speaker. “While I am used to doing presentations and speaking in front of groups around the world for my job, this brings a heightened sense of pressure,” explained Grogan.
In addition to Grogan, alumna Judy Reyers Spires,’75, MBA ’09, President and CEO of AG Supermarket Holdings, offered the Commencement Address. While Spires was an undergraduate at La Salle, she worked part time as a cashier at her local Acme supermarket in Westmont, N.J., and later became President of Acme markets, overseeing 130 Acme stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. She joined AG Supermarket Holdings, which includes Kings and Baldacci supermarkets, in 2010.
Spires is a member of La Salle’s Board of Trustees and since earning her MBA, has taught in the program. Spires has chosen to stay involved with La Salle because “that’s where it all began. La Salle taught me to be an independent thinker and to have confidence in myself,” said Spires. “When I walked out of there, I felt I could be anything I wanted to be.”