Sunday, May 14, 2000

Day brings joy, relief

NKU ceremony held off-campus

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Northern Kentucky University always has been known as a commuter's school. But George Droder stretched that definition a bit during his years at the school.

        Mr. Droder, 37, who received his master of business administration degree Saturday along with about 1,000 other NKU grads, has been commuting to the school's Highland Heights campus for two years — from Cleveland.

(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        A partner in a management consulting firm in Cleveland, Mr. Droder had five classes to complete toward his degree when he moved to northern Ohio.

        So once a week for the past two years, he has flown from Cleveland, paying as much as $600 for a round-trip ticket, to attend classes at NKU.

        “I could have transferred, but NKU was so good to me,” said Mr. Droder, who also was awarded the school's Compton Allyn Outstanding MBA Student award.

        “They let me complete some independent study classes because I'm on the road so much, and they worked with me if I couldn't always get there,” he said. “It was a grind, but I'm glad I stayed with it.”

        NKU actually took its own act on the road Saturday, moving graduation ceremonies off-campus for the first time. Graduation was held at downtown Cincinnati's Firstar Center.

        Kentucky Gov. Paul Pat ton was the commencement speaker, and the school awarded an honorary doctor of fine arts degree to Cincinnati wildlife artist John A. Ruthven.

        NKU President Dr. James Votruba said that because the school's Regents Hall has a capacity of just 2,000, graduation ceremonies had to be split in past years. For instance, in 1999 five graduation ceremonies were held on campus.

(Ernest Coleman photo)
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        “Firstar gives us more seating and unlimited room for guests,” Dr. Votruba said Saturday. “My hope is that in the near future we will be able to build a special-events center at NKU that will allow graduation to return to campus.” Graduation day was special to Shirley Finfrock.

        Ms. Finfrock, 51, a Highland Heights resident and a computer consultant for NKU, received a associate's business degree from the school Saturday afternoon.

        But that morning her son, Massimino Ionna, 28, and her daughter-in-law, Jennifer, 27, graduated from NKU's Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

        “I feel great, and it's really neat to be graduating on the same day with members of your own family,” Ms. Finfrock said. “This is a very emotional day for us. I think we'll do some celebrating tonight.”

        Nearly 100 graduates received law degrees from Chase during ceremonies that were held on NKU's campus.

        In Crestview Hills, morning showers gave way to sunny skies and pleasant temperatures in time for the outdoor graduation at Thomas More College.

        Nick Clooney, a newspaper columnist and television personality who is the father of actor George Clooney, gave the commencement address to the 373 graduates.

        Honorary degrees were given to Raymond and David Mueller, the father and son who founded Comair Inc., Northern Kentucky's only locally based airline. The two, particularly David Mueller, have helped raise millions of dollars for Thomas More.


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