Honorary Degrees Awarded at Commencement

May 07, 2011

The University of Mount Union honored three individuals during its 165th Commencement exercises Saturday. Mount Union Trustees Jack Peters, Vanita (Bauknight ’63) Oelschlager and the late Charles Grove were awarded honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees in recognition of their personal and professional accomplishments and service to the University.
Jack Peters
An Alliance native, Peters is as respected business leader in the Stark County area. He has a distinguished record of investment management service, having served as vice president of Stifel, Nicolaus and Company, Inc., formerly Butler Wick and Company. He is also the co-founder of The Greater Alliance Foundation, which provides individuals and other entities interested in the quality of life in the Alliance area the opportunity to direct their charitable giving toward identifiable and worthy needs that sometimes go unmet by the established charitable resources. He has been involved with numerous organizations including the Alliance Community Hospital, Alliance Family YMCA, United Way, Rodman Library and Alliance Area Chamber of Commerce.
At Mount Union, he has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 1987 and has faithfully supported the institution’s annual fund and numerous fund-raising campaigns. He also endowed the Madge Patterson Peters Scholarship, and just this fall, the stock ticker in the lobby of the Engineering and Business Building was named in his honor. Most notably, he established the Dowling Mentor Program in an attempt to enhance the lives of young people in the Alliance area. A graduate of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Peters has shared his knowledge and expertise with Mount Union students as an instructor for our business program.
“Along the way, he has more than enriched our lives and this campus as a whole,” said Dr. Raymond Posey, chair of the Department of Economics, Accounting and Business Administration as well as executive in residence and professor of economics, accounting and business administration, who presented Peters with his degree. “As a result of Mr. Peters’ dedication to Mount Union and the Alliance community, we, the faculty, recommend him for this prestigious recognition.”
“You have served your profession, your community and your peers with distinction, and we, as well as the entire Alliance community, have truly benefited from your guidance and influence,” said Dr. Richard F. Giese, president of the University, upon conferring the degree. “Each and every day, you lead your life in a manner that so appropriately represents all for which the mission of our institutions stands. Your life is fulfilling, your work is meaningful and your citizenship in this community is, without a doubt, responsible.”
Vanita (Bauknight ’63) Oelschlager
Mount Union alumna Oelschlager, along with her husband James, is an extremely generous supporter of the University while also dedicating herself to many other pursuits. She is a philanthropist, author and poet, as well as a former public school teacher and current co-owner of Oak Associates, an investment firm in Akron, Ohio. In addition, she is a regular visiting instructor in our children’s literature course and is a writer in residence at the University of Akron.
The Oelschager’s firm, Oak Associates, donated significant funds to Mount Union to establish a student investment team that invested their gifts in the stock market. The Oelschalger’s also provided the lead gift that made the 87,000-square-foot facility Bracy Hall possible, requesting that it be named for Carl Bracy, the sixth president of Mount Union, who made a major impact on her life while she was a student.
“Today, she is the one making a difference in students’ lives, leaving an indelible impression of dedication and loyalty that will live long into the future,” said Dr. Michael Olin-Hitt, chair of the Department of English and professor of English, who presented Oelschlager for the honorary degree. “Yet, Mount Union isn’t Mrs. Oelschlager’s only passion. Her husband’s 35-year challenge dealing with multiple sclerosis (MS) led the Oelschlagers to co-found the Oak Clinic for Multiple Sclerosis, which they subsidize annually.”
Oelschlager also shares insights from their family’s challenges in dealing with the disease by writing on the topic. My Grampy Can’t Walk is just one of many children’s books Vanita has written, expressing her wisdom of and experiences with MS in a way that children can relate. She has penned more than a dozen other books on an array of topics, and all net profits provide support for those battling MS as well as other philanthropic causes.
“At a time when the world is looking for true leaders, it is refreshing to know that we have one virtually in our own backyard,” said Olin-Hitt.
As he conferred the honorary degree, Giese said “As an alumna of Mount Union, we treasure your leadership and commend you for building a career and living a life that serves as a shining example for future generations of students. You stand here as one to be emulated by those graduating seniors who await their diplomas.”
Charles D. Grove
Dr. Donna Michalek, chair of the Department of Engineering, director of mechanical engineering and associate professor of mechanical engineering, presented Grove for an honorary degree, awarded posthumously and accepted by his wife, Carol and daughter, Carrie Givens.
“In January, we were saddened by the loss of a treasured member of the Mount Union community – Mr. Charles Grove,” said Michalek. “Known as an inspirational, generous and sincere human being, Mr. Grove was not only a business leader, but also a loyal and avid supporter of the Alliance and Mount Union communities.”
After serving in the United States Air Force for three years during the Korean War, Grove, a graduate of Alliance High School, returned to his hometown to join his father in the family business. As president and owner of Grove Appliance TV and Audio, he made his mark in the Alliance business community. Today, Grove’s is the city’s oldest business under continuous management.
Grove was a civic leader in the city, supporting numerous organizations and philanthropies. A member of the Alliance Chamber President’s Club, he also actively served on the Jaycees, Senior Citizens Board of Trustees and Rotary Club Foundation. He was a member of the Alliance Country Club, Alliance Elks Club and the Navy League of the United States. All the while, he found time to co-chair the Restoration Committee for Glamorgan Castle and served on the Board of the Greater Alliance Foundation.
Serving on the Mount Union Board of Trustees for nearly two decades, he was an invaluable asset during a period of significant growth and expansion at the University. A campaign supporter and annual fund contributor, he also provided a unique link between the University and the Alliance community in which he was so actively involved.
“Mr. Grove’s place in the history of this institution is a considerable one, and the University is truly a better place because of his association with it,” said Michalek. “There is no doubt that Mr. Grove exuded the spirit and energy that allowed him to make a significant impact on this University and the Alliance community he called home.”
Grove, who passed away in January, was also honored on Friday at a dedication ceremony at which the entryway of the Engineering and Business Building was named The Charles D. Grove Lobby in his honor.
“He was a leader, a mentor and a friend to many, and will be sorely missed,” said Giese. “A man of inspiration, his sincerity was unmistakable, and his enjoyment of life was undeniable.  We were truly fortunate to have known him, and are honored to be able to recognize him today for a lifetime of accomplishments.”

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