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More than 1,000 Students Participate in Ashford University's Commencement Ceremony
Ashford celebrated commencement weekend May 2 and 3
Sisters Martinelle Bonnell, William McCue, and Theresa Judge were granted "faculty emerita" status for their combined 111 years of service to Ashford University during the University's commencement ceremony on May 3.

Students came from far and wide to participate in Ashford University’s commencement weekend on May 2 and 3.

On May 3, more than 1,000 students crossed the stage at the iWireless Center in Moline, Ill. to receive their Ashford diplomas. Those students represented just a small percentage of the 7,000 students who were awarded associates, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees since Ashford’s last commencement ceremony in October 2014.

During the commencement address, Jeff Hobbs, a 2004 graduate and Ashford’s Outstanding Alum of the Month in April, spoke about perseverance and overcoming obstacles. Hobbs was born with spastic quadriplegia, a form of spastic cerebral palsy, and his muscles involuntarily and continuously contract, making balance and movement a challenge.

As a child, Hobbs was repeatedly told he couldn’t participate in Little League baseball and he became the first person in the history of his school to be cut from the football team, but he didn’t give up. Instead, he pursued a dream of competitive running, and he competed at the collegiate level in both cross country and track. Last year, he trained to become the first person with spastic quadriplegia to complete the Chicago marathon, but had to quit at the 12-mile mark because of injuries. He intends to continue training and participate in the 2016 marathon.

Following the commencement address, three faculty members who are also Sisters of St. Francis were recognized for their combined 111 years of service to the University. “Sr. William (McCue), Sr. Theresa (Judge), and Sr. Martinelle (Bonnell), as a result of the positive impact you have had on thousands and thousands of students. . .‘faculty emerita’ status is hereby granted to each of you,” said Dr. Charlie Minnick, Ashford vice president and campus director, during the ceremony. “Emerita status is granted to faculty who are concluding a long and distinguished career within an institution of higher education. Each one of you embodies the qualities associated with this honor: love for your students, love for your institution, and love for your craft. The contributions you have made to this University are numerous and lasting.” He presented a plaque to each of the Sisters.

For many of the graduates, the commencement weekend provided the first opportunity to meet their fellow classmates and professors in person since they had taken Ashford’s classes online.

On May 2, Ashford’s Clinton, Iowa campus hosted a day-long celebration for graduates and their families. The day included campus tours, honor society and military appreciation events, an Ashford history presentation, and a variety of refreshments. Campus visitors had their photo taken with Ashford President Dr. Richard Pattenaude and Champ, the University’s St. Bernard mascot. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet the deans, executive deans, and select faculty members from each of the University’s four colleges. “The Future Achievers Fun Zone” featured activities for kids in Kehl Arena.

Also on May 2, the campus Ashford University Alumni Association was launched with a reception. Alumni can activate their alumni association membership by going to

For a complete list of graduates’ names, go to



About Ashford University

Where heritage meets innovation – that’s Ashford University. At Ashford, students discover relevant degree programs, innovative technology, and cherished tradition. Ashford offers associates, bachelor’s, and master’s online degree programs, while the Clinton, Iowa campus offers bachelor’s programs. Whether on campus or online, Ashford students enjoy the same supportive community. For more information, please visit,,, or call Shari Winet, Vice President of Public Relations, at 858.513.9240 x2513.