Commencement Speaker

jim collins
Jim Collins '69, Trustee Emeritus

Jim Collins, a 1969 St. Ambrose graduate, Trustee Emeritus of the St. Ambrose University Board of Trustees, and a longtime leader in efforts to enhance and promote diversity on campus, was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree and delivered the spring 2016 commencement address on May 14.

Jim began his professional career with Deere & Company working in the foundry while completing his studies at St. Ambrose. He continued with Deere after graduation, and rose through the ranks to serve as equal employment opportunity coordinator and director of affirmative action. He retired in 2008, as the director of Deere's Corporate Citizenship Center of Excellence and president of the John Deere Foundation.

He has been a leader and adviser to the Diversity Work Group at St. Ambrose and a founding contributor to the Freeman Pollard Endowment Fund, which provides scholarship assistance to minority students.

Honorary degrees also were conferred upon Tom '72 and Caren Bakrow Laughlin '76. Tom spent 34 years as the founding executive director of the River Bend Foodbank. Caren supported that work in a volunteer capacity before taking on an official role as director of marketing for the nonprofit agency.