RIO GRANDE - University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College will welcome a state leader and an NBA coach to its upcoming commencement and Founder's Day ceremonies on Saturday, May 6.
State Sen. John Carey of Wellston will serve as the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony, while NBA Charlotte Bobcats Head Coach and General Manager Bernie Bickerstaff will be the keynote speaker for the Founder's Day Ceremony.
Dr. Herman Koby, interim president of Rio Grande Community College, said he has followed Carey's career in the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate, and is proud to have him speaking at the commencement ceremony.
“He's advanced rapidly,” Koby said. “He's been a real credit to our district.”
Dr. Greg Sojka, interim president of the University of Rio Grande, said that Carey has been a good friend to Rio Grande over the years and has served the community well.
He added that Carey would have one additional duty as the commencement speaker, as he will play a key role on the stage when one very special student receives her diploma. That student is Carey's wife, Lynley, who will be receiving her master's degree during the ceremony.
Sojka added that he is also very proud to have Bickerstaff delivering the keynote address at the Founders' Day ceremony.
“It's going to be a real homecoming for Bernie Bickerstaff and his family,” Sojka said.
Koby agreed, adding that he is happy to have someone as successful as Bickerstaff has been in the NBA, returning to campus for the Founders' Day ceremony.
The Founders' Day ceremony will be the first activity of the day on Saturday, May 6, as it will begin at 10 a.m. in the Alphus R. Christensen Theatre in the Berry Fine and Performing Arts Center on the Rio Grande campus.
During the ceremony, all of the students who have had significant accomplishments, both academically and athletically, throughout the school year will be recognized. The ceremony also honors the history of the institution, and salutes the students who will be graduating.
Bickerstaff, who will serve as the keynote speaker for the ceremony, attended Rio Grande from 1961 to 1963 and played on the men's basketball team.
Bickerstaff went on to become a very successful basketball coach, and has coached in the NBA for more than 30 years. His coaching career includes serving as the head coach for four NBA teams, and he currently serves as the head coach and general manager of the Charlotte Bobcats.
Originally from Benham, Ky., Bickerstaff and his wife Eugenia have five children and six grandchildren.
The academic procession for the commencement ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. on the green in front of Allen Hall and Anniversary Hall. If there is rain during the day, the ceremony will be moved into the Newt Oliver Arena in Lyne Center. In that case, tickets will be required for entry.
Carey is a fifth-generation resident of Wellston who served as mayor of the city from 1988 through 1994. Carey began serving in the Ohio House of Representatives in 1995 and worked on numerous key issues such as reforming the state's welfare system, changing the law on fireworks after the Scottown tragedy, and pushing for the Rural Industrial Park loan program to help rural counties compete for jobs. Carey also served in the important position of House Finance Committee chairman.
In 2003, Carey began serving in the Ohio Senate, where he has also worked on several key issues, such as tax reform. Among his other duties, he currently serves as the chairman of the Finance and Financial Committee.
Carey, who has won numerous awards for his work as a public servant in Ohio, is the first person in 75 years to serve as the chairman of both House and Senate finance committees. Carey and his wife Lynley life in Wellston and have two sons.
While the main activities will be occurring on Saturday, May 6, other important events will also be held in the week leading up to that day.
On Tuesday, May 2, the Radiologic Technician recognition ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m.; on Thursday, May 4, the Clinical Laboratory Technology (CLT) recognition ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.; and on Friday, May 5, the graduates' breakfast will begin at 8 a.m., the graduation practice will begin at 9:30 a.m., and the nurses' pinning ceremony will begin at 7 p.m.
For more information on the any of these events, call (800) 282-7201. For additional information on upcoming events at Rio Grande, or for information on the wide variety of academic and professional programs offered by the institution, log onto www.rio.edu.