Wilkes University


Wilkes University Holds 69th Annual Spring Commencement on May 21

John J. Passan of Wilkes-Barre To Receive Honorary Degree

More than 700 graduate and undergraduate students will receive degrees when Wilkes University holds its 69th annual spring commencement on Saturday, May 21. The 10 a.m. ceremony for graduate students and 3 p.m. ceremony for undergraduates will be held in the Arnaud C. Marts Sports & Conference Center. The new campus Gateway will be the site of the student procession to the Marts Center for both ceremonies. Doors at the Marts Center will open one hour before the ceremony

Wil Del Pilar, acting deputy secretary of postsecondary and higher education at the Pennsylvania Department of Education will address students receiving master’s and doctoral degrees at the 10 a.m. ceremony. Del Pilar is responsible for coordinating the state’s bureau of postsecondary and adult education, the division of higher and career, division of adult education, the division of veterans and military education and the bureau of school leadership and teacher quality.

The morning ceremony also will include an address by Ty Frederickson, who is receiving his doctor of education degree on Saturday. Frederickson is among the first doctoral graduates from ABA, an international school in Muscat, Oman. Wilkes offers its doctor of education program online to a cohort of teachers at the school.  Frederickson’s humanitarian work with a school in the Bangladesh village of Gush Kande led to a 2014 project in which Wilkes engineering students build a solar generator for the school.

The afternoon ceremony for undergraduates will include an address by University President Patrick F. Leahy and will be highlighted by the presentation of an honorary doctor of humane letters degree to John J. Passan of Wilkes-Barre. Passan, a businessman and philanthropist, and his wife, Ann, gave a $3.3 million gift -- the largest in Wilkes history – to create the Passan School of Nursing at the University. Passan founded Valley Distributing & Storage Co. of Wilkes-Barre. He has supported a number of charitable causes in the region, including previous support to Wilkes. A building that houses the office of the University’s dean of students, health and wellness services and residence life, also bears his name.