It’s that time of year when students transition from scholars to career professionals. While donning academic regalia, graduates across the nation will hear inspirational speeches from those who have paved the way to success. Saint Xavier University (SXU) is pleased to announce the 2018 Commencement Ceremony speakers who will share their knowledge and expertise while congratulating this year’s graduates on achieving their high-quality academic degrees.
Immediate Past President of Advocate Christ Medical Center Kenneth W. Lukhard, MA, MPA, will receive an honorary degree Doctor of Public Service, honoris causa and will deliver the Commencement address on Saturday, May 5 at 9:30 a.m. to graduates of SXU’s Graham School of Management (GSM) and School of Nursing (SON). Award-winning Chicago Sun-Times Urban Affairs Reporter and Columnist Maudlyne Ihejirika will receive an honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa and will deliver the Commencement address on Saturday, May 5 at 3 p.m. to the graduates of SXU’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS).
The Commencement ceremonies will be held in the Shannon Center at the University’s Chicago campus, located at 3700 West 103rd Street.
A recipient of the American College of Health Care Executives “Lifetime Achievement Award,” Lukhard has served hospitals and medical centers for 30 years as a president/Chief Executive Officer (CEO). His background includes leading multiple hospital turnarounds and several top 100 hospitals. In the fall of 2005, Lukhard joined Advocate Health Care to lead the strategic, operational turnaround and expansion of Christ Medical Center, a 790-bed major teaching and quaternary-care hospital in the south suburbs of Chicago. His vision grew roots that permeated deep into the organization and was embraced by the medical staff and associates to create a culture of high accountability and success. For eight years, Christ Medical Center has consistently been named a top major teaching hospital by Truven, Health Grades, Beckers and U.S. News & World Report. Health outcomes, associate and physician satisfaction all reached and exceeded the top decile. Hospital margins went from 2 – 3 percent to 8 – 10 percent. An $800 million expansion was launched and completed under his leadership; including all three transplantation programs (heart, lung and kidney), resulting in the LVAD/heart transplantation program to be among the most successful in the country.
With nearly 30 years of experience in newspaper journalism, public relations and government, Ihejirika currently pens the Sun-Times’ “Chicago Chronicles” column, long-form stories on “people and places that make Chicago tick,” with particular focus on African-American and Hispanic communities. A Sun-Times staffer for 25 years, she has served as assistant city editor and covered beats from crime and inner city to housing and education, politics and philanthropy. Ihejirika left the Sun-Times in 1997 to serve as Gov. Jim Edgar’s press secretary for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services; and in 1999, she left the state government to launch the Ihejirika Media & Communications Group. Her niche public relations firm managed the successful re-election campaign of U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush in 2000 when he was challenged by a then little-known politician by the name of Barack Obama. It would be the only race the former President Obama would lose on his upward trajectory to the U.S. presidency. After returning to the Sun-Times in 2003, Ihejirika was honored with numerous awards, including the 2016 Chicago Defender Women of Excellence Award, the prestigious 2015 Studs Terkel Award and the 2015 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Salute to Excellence Award for best newspaper series nationally.