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Bellarmine to Grant Honorary Degrees to New York City Ballet Dancer and Owensboro Bishop

Mar 05, 2009


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – During spring commencement services, Bellarmine University will grant honorary degrees to Bishop John J. McRaith, who led the Diocese of Owensboro for more than 25 years, and New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan. The ceremony will be held in Knights Hall on May 9 at Noon EDT.

Whelan spent much of her childhood on the Bellarmine campus during the 1970s, when her mother coached the women's basketball team for five seasons. Next month, she will come home to Louisville to perform in "Rite of Spring" with the Louisville Ballet, where she got her start at as a mouse at age 8 in the ballet's annual performance of "The Nutcracker." For details on the upcoming performance, see http://www.louisvilleballet.org/Rite_of_Spring.htm. The spring issue of Bellarmine Magazine features a profile of Whelan and her career.

McRaith headed the 32-county Diocese of Owensboro from 1982 until he stepped down due to health concerns in January of this year. The diocese was recognized for its growth and high mass attendance during his tenure. He previously served 22 years as a priest in Minnesota.

Bellarmine University is an independent Catholic university offering more than 50 majors, as well as graduate degree programs and a doctor of physical therapy. Forbes magazine and the Princeton Review rank Bellarmine among America’s best colleges, and U.S. News and World Report consistently ranks Bellarmine as a top tier university.

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