Davenport University to honor 1,400 new graduates during April commencement

Event to feature Fred Keller, founder and chair of Cascade Engineering

Davenport University will honor more than 1,400 students this spring with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business, technology, health and urban education, in a ceremony on April 30 at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids. Fred Keller, founder and chair of Cascade Engineering, will serve as this year’s commencement speaker.

“We’re looking forward to honoring the hard work and talent of our students,” said Dr. Richard J. Pappas, president of Davenport University. “Our degree programs are designed to address the talent needs and gaps in our current and future job market. Davenport students – many the first in their families to achieve a college degree – are poised for success.”

Keynote speaker Fred Keller, a Grand Rapids native, believes that business performance should complement important work in the social a

nd environmental arenas. His unique approach emphasizes the key role business can play in building financial, social and ecological capital, often through partnerships with government and community agencies. Business and industry publications regularly feature his innovative management approach and work in advancing sustainability.

“We are honored to have Fred speak to our graduates,” said Dr. Pappas. “He is an incredible leader and visionary, who understood early on that the success of an organization begins with building a culture where everyone is treated with dignity and respect. Our students will benefit from hearing his insight as they get ready to start the next phase of their lives.” 

The university plans to award an honorary doctorate in business degree to Fred, in honor of his work and leadership in the community.

This year’s Davenport University graduates range in age between 18 and 70. They hail not only from cities across Michigan but also from 31 states and 12 countries, including Argentina, Pakistan and Sweden. Nearly 40 percent of Davenport’s students are the first in their families to graduate from college.

“Many of these students are the first in their family to earn a degree,” said Dr. Pappas. “We take great pride in helping these students achieve an education that capitalizes on their potential and prepares them to launch successful careers.” 

Students will be earning degrees spanning from accounting to cybersecurity to education and nursing with 25 percent graduating with a master’s degree and another 75 percent earning their bachelor’s.

The university is once again asking families to submit congratulatory photos and messages to their students to incorporate into the ceremony. This tradition was started when the ceremony was virtual during COVID and based on the positive response, it was made a consistent element in all programs going forward.  

Graduates will walk at a ceremony held at the Van Andel Arena in downtown Grand Rapids at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 30. Graduates are asked to arrive by 1:30 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive before 2 p.m. More information about the ceremony and a live-streamed video are available at davenport.edu/commencement.

About Davenport University 

Founded in 1866, Davenport is a private, non-profit university serving about 7,500 students at campuses across Michigan and online. With tuition among the lowest of all private universities in the state, Davenport provides high academic quality, small class sizes, conveniently located campuses, faculty with real-world experience and more than 60 dynamic undergraduate and graduate programs addressing in-demand careers in business, technology, health professions and urban education. More information is available at www.davenport.edu.


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