Nourishing mother. That’s the meaning of the Latin alma mater. The term is used nowadays to refer to the college from which one graduated, yet it still connotes warm feelings of encouragement to explore one’s potential and recognize one’s calling before venturing into the world beyond home.
So it seems especially appropriate that St. Ambrose has traditionally held its spring commencement ceremony on Mother’s Day, when endings mix bittersweetly with beginnings. And this year’s ceremony promises the full spectrum, with Sister Joan Lescinski participating in her first spring commencement as St. Ambrose’s president, at which honorary doctorates will be awarded to St. Ambrose President Emeritus Ed Rogalski and his wife, Bobbi, along with former state senator Maggie Tinsman and this year’s commencement speaker, Clyde Mayfield ’80.
A retired Davenport firefighter who has been an advocate of education, and coach and mentor of inner city children for more than 30 years, Mayfield will speak to the 2008 graduating class of about 560 candidates about their particular role in society.
“I think today’s graduates have a special place,” says Mayfield, who serves on the board of Thomas Merton House, Davenport Civil Rights Commission and Davenport Promise, among other affiliations. “They’ve been given an opportunity to be tomorrow’s leaders. It’s important to help others because, in turn, we help ourselves.”
Mayfield credits the support and encouragement of family, friends and colleagues as the reason for his being honored at commencement by his alma mater. “I think it is important that I accept the honor not only for myself, but for all the people who have influenced my life and contributed to who I am and who I’ve become today.”
The Rogalskis will receive doctorates of humane letters for their extraordinary service over more than 40 years to St. Ambrose and the Quad Cities. “We have been especially privileged to serve this great university, and receiving St. Ambrose University’s highest honor is personally gratifying and humbling,” Ed Rogalski says.
Most recently he was appointed president and chief administrative officer of the Quad Cities Cultural and Educational Supporting Charitable Trust, as well as chair of the Davenport Promise task force—both roles important to him, in addition to chairing the 2008 United Way of the Quad Cities Area campaign.
While their five sons were growing up, Bobbi Rogalski was active volunteering in the schools before branching out to the Davenport community, mostly concentrating on the arts. She is a member of several boards, including the Adler Foundation, Figge Museum, Quad City Arts and Iowa Arts Council.
Receiving a doctorate in public service is former state senator Maggie Tinsman, who also has a long and impressive career of community service, including being named Iowa Social Worker of the Year in 1979. She served on the Scott County Board of Supervisors for 11 years before her election to the Iowa Senate in 1989. As a state senator, Tinsman served on committees ranging from education to human resources to health and human services. She has been an active leader in Medicaid/Medicare reform and initiated the Iowa Empowerment Program.