All three honorees are faithful Christians, community leaders, and seasoned professionals with strong ties to the university.
Rev. Verda E. Beach
Verda E. Beach has completed more than four decades of committed service as a pastor, teacher, college administrator, college president, and trustee. An ordained minister of the Church of God, the Rev. Beach has served as dean of the Inservice Training Institute and member of the leadership board of the National Association of the Church of God. An alumna of Chicago State University, she earned her Doctor of Ministry degree from Chicago Theological College.
She has served as dean of continuing education, director of development, and dean of learning and instructional resources for City Colleges of Chicago. Since 1997 she has served as the president of Bay Ridge Christian College in Kendleton, Texas. This college has served the church by enabling leaders for both the church and society.
Rev. Beach has long been a children’s advocate by supporting and directing numerous organizations to improve reading skills. She is known nationally as an author and speaker, and has completed 14 years of leadership on the Anderson University Board of Trustees. Rev. Beach will receive the honorary doctorate of divinity.
Dr. Larry G. Osnes
Larry G. Osnes is president of Hamline University, one of this nation’s great universities. Inaugurated in 1988, President Osnes brings decades of experience in higher education. Before his election as the 18th president of Hamline, Dr. Osnes served for five years as president and chief executive officer of the Minnesota Private College Council, Fund, and Research Foundation. In that capacity, he served on the Minnesota High Technology Council, the Minnesota Higher Education Facilities Authority, the Minnesota Minority Education Partnership, and the Minnesota Higher Education Advisory Council. As the chief spokesperson for private higher education in Minnesota, he represented the interests of 17 private colleges and universities to the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Board and to the State Legislature.
An alumnus of Anderson University, Dr. Osnes received his master’s degree in history from Wayne State College and his Ph.D. in history from the University of Cincinnati. For 14 years he was a history professor at Anderson University and served in administrative capacities. From 1973 to 1977, he founded and directed the Center for Public Service, a program designed to attract exceptional liberal arts students to careers in public service.
He is the co-originator of the Academy in the Public Service, based in Washington, D. C., which has prepared thousands of elected state officials for public service. Dr. Osnes will receive the honorary doctorate of humane letters.
Tom L. Ward
Tom L. Ward has served as president, chief officer, and a director of Chesapeake Energy Corporation since its inception in 1989. Based in Oklahoma City, Chesapeake is one of this nation’s leading producers of natural gas. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Ward is recognized as one of the state’s leading businessmen and entrepreneurs.
An active member of the Anderson University Board of Trustees, Mr. Ward is passionate about supporting programs and initiatives to assist Anderson University students. The philanthropic interests of Mr. Ward and his wife, Sch’ree, have made numerous scholarships possible for students from Oklahoma.
Their lead gift to the Kardatzke Wellness Center project was instrumental in making this state-of-the-art facility a reality. He recently funded a program to assist the university in developing and providing greater communication and planning with churches across the nation.
A devout Christian lay leader and church elder, Mr. Ward is actively involved in providing counsel, support, and mentoring opportunities to youth and young adults within his church and Oklahoma City. Tom Ward will receive the honorary doctorate of laws.
Preceding commencement was the traditional baccalaureate service, which welcomed guest speaker Dr. Steven Rennick, senior pastor of the Church at the Crossing in Indianapolis.
Other events during Anderson University’s May 8 commencement weekend included the traditional School of Nursing Pinning Ceremony on Friday, the Hooding Ceremony for the School of Education (as well as the certification ceremony for the Teach in Indiana Program--TIP) on Saturday morning, and the Hooding Ceremony for the Falls School of Business Saturday afternoon.
Anderson University is a private, four-year, Christian liberal arts institution of approximately 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, the university offers more than 60 undergraduate majors and graduate programs of study in business, education and theology.