Four years ago, President Ed Rogalski told the Class of 2007 they would be "graduating together." As promised, nearly 600 degree candidates shared the stage with their president on Mother's Day, May 13, at The Mark of the Quad Cities, as all bid him a fond farewell.
The 2007 commencement ceremony was Rogalski's last as president, and tears trickled down the cheeks of those who love him, many wishing that the end of his 39-year tenure at St. Ambrose hadn't arrived so quickly.
"At a time when many college presidencies are measured in months, Ed's tenure of 20 years is nothing short of remarkable," said friend and colleague Jim Van Speybroeck '60, professor of finance, economics and decision science. "No matter what Ed has accomplished in his years at St. Ambrose, he always knew-and never forgot-that there was a person at the end of that decision. This is his legacy to all of us."
"Our class has been fortunate enough to see Dr. Rogalski finish his tenure," said Senior Class President Maura Daly. "We thank you for your remarkable leadership, for without you, St. Ambrose would not be the university it is today."
During the ceremony, the university awarded 420 baccalaureate degrees, 98 master's degrees and four doctorates. Honorary doctorate recipients were Leo Bressanelli, president and CEO of Genesis Health System; Sister Ludmilla Benda, rsm; Frank Klipsch, president and CEO of the Scott County Family Y; and the Most Rev. Martin Amos, bishop of the Diocese of Davenport.
In his address to the graduates, Rogalski spoke of destiny and of finding a purpose greater than oneself. "To be happy one should first have something to live on; second, something to live for; and lastly, something to die for," he said, paraphrasing the Polish poet Cyprian Norwid. "To do that requires finding something that you truly believe in, something so worth accomplishing that you dedicate yourself to it whole-heartedly-without doubts or self-interest."
Destiny brought him and his wife, Bobbi, to St. Ambrose, Rogalski said, but it was the people, the purpose and the mission that kept them here.
With this testimony still ringing in their ears, Rogalski gave the Class of 2007 its charge.
"So today, on this auspicious occasion in all of our lives, I pray this for all of you, graduates: That you may be as blessed as I have been to serve so great an institution and so great a cause. You know now what it is to be a part of a community of such generosity of spirit, and to experience such a communion of faith and purpose.... Please know that wherever I go, my thoughts and prayers will always be with you and with St. Ambrose. And you will always, forever, be in my heart."