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Wittenberg University Gives Honorary Degrees During 2012 Commencement Exercises

May 11, 2012  
 Filed in Community

virginia franta

Virginia Franta

Springfield, Ohio — As anticipation grows for the 410 students set to graduate on Saturday, two other distinguished guests are now making their way to Wittenberg to be recognized along with the class of 2012. Philanthropist Virginia Ellis Franta, Wittenberg class of 1936, and Peggy Fox, Wittenberg class of 1967 and retired president and publisher of New Directions Publishing Corporation, will each be honored during the ceremony.

Described by chemistry faculty as the “angel of the chemistry department,” Franta has provided annual support for student and faculty research for decades. Believing that students deserve the best teaching and equipment to succeed, Franta has remained continually engaged with the program, including being regularly informed about the accomplishments and plans of graduating chemistry majors. During her own years on campus, Franta actively engaged in music, Greek life and student government. Upon graduation, she had the opportunity to study biochemistry at the University of Gottingen, Germany, from 1938-39, and a year later married her husband, William.

In keeping with Wittenberg’s motto, “Having light we pass it on to others,” Franta has passed on her light in service to others, including volunteering in several capacities with the Chi Omega Alumni Association, the Wilmington (Delaware) Panhellenic Association and the Girl Scouts of America. During Saturday’s ceremony, she will receive the university’s highest non-academic recognition, the Wittenberg Medal of Honor.

Peggy Fox

Peggy Fox

For decades, Fox has brought experimental literature to new readers and new writers. Founded in 1936 by a 22-year-old Harvard sophomore named James Laughlin, New Directions became Fox’s home for more than 20 years. Advancing from associate editor to the top post at the company, Fox believed firmly in New Directions’ vision of being “a place where experimentalists could test their inventions by publication.” For Fox, her work enhanced collective understanding as she helped to bring new ideas, globalism, compassion and humility to today’s literature. Fox will receive an honorary doctor of humane letters at today’s ceremony.

Also receiving a honorary doctor of humane letters will be community change advocate Jennifer Vanica, Wittenberg class of 1976, and Commencement keynote speaker. Vanica, former president and CEO of the Jacobs Family Foundation and Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, has transformed the national conversation about community development while raising millions of dollars to change people’s lives.

Written By: Karen Gerboth

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