UW-Milwaukee: Spring Commencement May 22 honors Gale Klappa and George Blumenthal with honorary degrees

MILWAUKEE — The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 2011 Spring Commencement will be held Sunday, May 22, at the U.S. Cellular Arena, 400 W. Kilbourn Ave., and will honor alumni Gale E. Klappa and George R. Blumenthal with honorary degrees.

Due to the number of graduates, there are two commencement ceremonies, with graduate participation determined by the school or college attended.

An estimated 2,603 bachelor’s, 765 master’s and 83 Ph.D. degree candidates have been invited to participate. For more information, visit uwm.edu/secu/commencement.

Black Ceremony, 9 a.m.

The Black Ceremony includes bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. candidates from the following schools and colleges: School of Architecture and Urban Planning, College of Letters and Science, School of Information Studies and the Peck School of the Arts.

Chancellor Michael R. Lovell; Charles Pruitt, regent president of the UW System Board of Regents; and UWM Alumni Association President Lawrence J. Schnuck will welcome the participants.

Greetings from the graduating class will be given by Travis Evan Romero-Boeck, College of Letters & Science.

George R. Blumenthal (’66), chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Astrophysics and Leadership in Higher Education. Blumenthal will give the commencement address.

Brian J. Bear (’80) will receive the 2011 UWM Alumni Association (UWMAA) Citizenship Award and Frederick L. Hemke will receive the 2011 UWMAA Special Life Achievement Award.

Gold Ceremony, 1:30 p.m.

The Gold Ceremony includes bachelor’s, master’s, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Ph.D. candidates from the following schools and colleges: Lubar School of Business, School of Education, College of Engineering & Applied Science, College of Health Sciences, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare and College of Nursing.

Chancellor Michael R. Lovell; Michael J. Spector, regent vice president, UW System Board of Regents; and UWM Alumni Association President Lawrence J. Schnuck will welcome the participants.

Greetings from the graduating class will be given by Crystal Plahuta, College of Letters & Science.

Gale E. Klappa (’72), chairman, president and CEO of Wisconsin Energy Corporation, will receive the honorary degree Doctor of Commercial Science and give the commencement address.

Recipients of the 2011 UWMAA Distinguished Alumnus Awards also will be recognized. They are Michael Gericke (’78), Dean H. Nimmer (’68, ’70), Lawrence J. Schnuck (’78, ’86) and Kevin P. Stalheim (’81).



Doctor of Commercial Science

Nominated by the Lubar School of Business

Gale E. Klappa has served as chairman, president and CEO of Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corporation since 2004 and also holds the same position with Wisconsin Energy’s principal utility subsidiary, We Energies. He is a 1972 graduate cum laude of UWM, with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication.

Klappa strongly supports UWM’s growth initiative and recognizes that the university is critical to the future economic success of the region. This is evident in his service as 2006 co-chair of UWM’s comprehensive campaign, the largest fundraising campaign in UWM history, as well as membership on the Lubar School’s Business Advisory Council.

Klappa possesses years of experience as an astute business leader and introduced a strategy to Milwaukee business leaders to strengthen the city’s economic future. The Milwaukee 7, launched in September 2005, was formed to create a regional, cooperative economic development platform for the seven counties of Southeastern Wisconsin. Its mission is to attract, retain and grow diverse businesses and talent.

“We are seven counties united around an agenda to grow, expand and attract world-class businesses and talent, creating high-value employment and a sustainable quality of life,” Klappa said at the M7’s fifth anniversary in 2010.

Klappa has received recognition for demonstrating his commitment to creating a future for the Greater Milwaukee area. He was named Corporate Strategic Partner and CEO of the Year in 2006. The award recognizes We Energies for efforts to establish supplier relationships with minority-owned companies in Milwaukee.

The Legacy Foundation saluted Klappa in 2008 for his business and civic leadership, noting in particular the launch of M7. In 2010, Klappa was again named CEO of the Year by the Business Council, recognizing his “continued progress, sincere effort and the number of ethnically diverse companies in Milwaukee that you have partnered with as suppliers.”


Doctor of Astrophysics and Leadership in Higher Education

Nominated by the Department of Physics

George R. Blumenthal is the 10th chancellor of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an outstanding scholar in cosmology, galaxy formation and high-energy astrophysics. He joined UCSC in 1972 and served as chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University Academic Senate and UC systemwide Academic Senate.

Blumenthal, who grew up in Milwaukee, was the first generation of his family to attend college. He earned his bachelor of science degree at UWM in 1966 and his Ph.D. in physics at the University of California, San Diego, in 1971.

Blumenthal’s distinguished research career as a theoretical astrophysicist encompasses several critical areas including gamma ray bursts and the role of dark matter in the formation and evolution of the universe.

He is co-author of the astronomy textbook “21st Century Astronomy,” and his work in high-energy cosmic rays has become a reference for students in astrophysics. He has contributed greatly to the “cold dark matter” (CDM) theory which is now accepted as standard in theoretical astrophysics.

Blumenthal continues to combine teaching, scholarship and leadership in the academic community, both at UCSC, his home campus, and within the state system.

Blumenthal is a respected leader who is helping to shape the future of UCSC’s campus. Appointed chancellor in September 2007, he inherited the university’s conflicts with the city of Santa Cruz and had major concerns about the added impact of the anticipated increase in student population.

The city, county and a citizen’s organization were suing UCSC because the state-mandated campus did not have to abide by city regulations. Blumenthal’s leadership skills led to a written settlement and the lawsuits dissipated. He was able to resolve many formerly persistent issues and set a new standard for reconciling similar conflicts in the UC system.