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Bellarmine Names Visionaries in Business and Education as Honorary Degree Recipients

Apr 21, 2010


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 21, 2010) -- Bellarmine University will present honorary degrees to business leader Lee B. Thomas Jr. and education reform advocate Robert F. Sexton during spring commencement exercises on May 8, in Knights Hall. Sexton also will deliver the commencement address.

Thomas, who will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, currently serves as executive-in-residence in Bellarmine's W. Fielding Rubel School of Business. He has been chairman of Universal Woods Inc. in Louisville since 1993. Previously, he served as president and CEO of Vermont American Corp. from 1962 until 1984, and as chairman of the board from 1984 until the company was sold in 1989.

Thomas earned a bachelor's degree from the Yale University engineering school and received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Wilmington College. He is the author of "Ethical Business Relationships," published in 2005. He served on the board of the Council on Economic Priorities in New York for more than 30 years until 2000, and was chair at the time it negotiated the SA8000 universal workplace standards for global business in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1997. Thomas also is a founding member of the Louisville Friends Meeting, which honors the Quaker tradition. The group celebrated its 50th anniversary in May 2004.

Sexton, who will receive the Doctor of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, has been the executive director of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence since its creation in 1983. Campaigning by the independent, non-partisan advocacy group helped pave the way for the passage of the landmark Kentucky Education Reform Act in 1990, and the organization continues to work on behalf of school-reform efforts today.

A Louisville native, Sexton has also been the deputy director of the Kentucky Council on Higher Education, an administrator at the University of Kentucky and a professor of history. Sexton was a founder of the Kentucky Governor's Scholars Program and the Commonwealth Institute for Teachers. He was also the founder and president of the Kentucky Center for Public Issues and served as publisher of The Kentucky Journal. He has served on the boards of numerous national education organizations. Sexton received his bachelor's degree at Yale University and earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Washington. He is the author of the 2004 book "Mobilizing Citizens for Better Schools."

About Bellarmine University

Bellarmine University is an independent Catholic university offering more than 50 majors, as well as graduate degree programs, a doctor of nursing practice and a doctor of physical therapy. Forbes.com and the Princeton Review rank Bellarmine among America's best institutions for higher education, and U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Bellarmine as a top tier university.

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