Commencement '09

600 students receive degrees. Olympian Rafer Johnson says world needs their help.

California Lutheran University sent forth 600 new graduates during the Forty-Sixth Annual Commencement ceremonies held May 16 in Mt. Clef Stadium.

During the morning undergraduate ceremony, Olympian and humanitarian Rafer Johnson told the 368 students receiving bachelor's degrees that the world needs them.

"We're polarized. We know of the toxins that exist in the environment. We read daily of...corruption in politics," Johnson said. "We're depending on the graduating class of Cal Lutheran 2009... By giving the best that they can be, they're going to make this a different world."

Undergraduate student speakers representing the Class of 2009 included student body president Andrew Brown of Champlin, Minn., and Joelle Cortez of Placentia.

Cortez said she came to CLU content to let others take charge and left a leader.

"I was forced to confront the fact that every single person here has leadership qualities in them, including myself," said Cortez. "We have been given the gift of integrity and hard work and have developed a passion for serving others."

Robyn Ballard, the 2009 Adult Degree Evening Program speaker, shared her story of starting at CLU as an 18-year-old nearly a quarter of a century ago only to leave before earning a degree to pursue acting and singing. Years later, she left Colorado with her daughter to return to CLU to earn her degree and become a teacher.

Charles Weis, Santa Clara Superintendent of Schools and former Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, gave the address at the afternoon graduate ceremony honoring the 225 students receiving master's degrees and the 11 candidates for doctoral degrees.

Student speaker William Cioffi of Simi Valley represented the master's degree candidates and Lorraine Mulick of Thousand Oaks spoke for the doctoral candidates.

Photo Captions
  1. Olympian Rafer Johnson, guest speaker for the undergraduate Commencement, was presented with a Doctor of Laws honoris causa.
  2. Tex Ward, right, former General Manager of the Conejo Recreation and Parks District, was presented with the Exemplar Medallion during the graduate ceremony. He is pictured with his son, Matt Ward, CLU Vice President for Enrollment Management and Marketing.
  3. Charles Weis, Santa Clara County Superintendent of Schools and former Ventura County Superintendent of Schools, gave the address at the graduate Commencement. He was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa.
  4. Dennis Gillette, center, mayor pro tem of the City of Thousand Oaks and former CLU Vice President for Administrative Services/Treasurer, received an honorary Doctor of Laws during the morning ceremony. He is congratulated by President Chris Kimball and Provost Leanne Neilson.