DAVID VAN ANDEL 2010 AQUINAS COMMECEMENT SPEAKER
April 9, 2010 - GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN (April 8, 2010) - The Aquinas College 2010 commencement exercise will take place on Saturday, May 8. The day will begin with the Baccalaureate Mass to be held at 10 a.m. in the Cathedral of St. Andrew, 265 Sheldon Ave. SE, Grand Rapids. At 2 p.m., Commencement will take place in Sunshine Community Church, 3300 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids. Honorary degrees will be bestowed upon David Van Andel, Doctor of Science; Greg Alksnis '71, Doctor of Business; and Rosemary (Hickey) Zant '58, Doctor of Public Service. Over 450 undergraduate and graduate students will receive their degrees. >>More on Commencement 2010
The 2010 commencement address, "Inflection Point: Recognizing Your Vocation," will be delivered by David Van Andel, chairman and CEO of the Van Andel Institute (VAI). The VAI has made significant advancements in the life science and biomedical research industry in Grand Rapids. Since its founding in 2000, the VAI under Van Andel's guidance has seen strong growth, and realized the establishment of international partnerships in the areas of research, business, and education. The institute has formed an important relationship with Aquinas as it has offered numerous internship opportunities for science-oriented students.
The son of Jay Van Andel, founder of the Van Andel Institute and co-founder of the Amway Corporation, David Van Andel is also currently chairman of IdeaSphere Inc., a supplier of natural and organic products. Recently he has held the position of executive vice president and chief operating officer of Alticor’s Pyxis Innovations Business Unit and is a member of the corporation’s board of directors. Prior to this position, Van Andel was senior vice president: Americas and Europe, overseeing the Amway business activities in North America and 22 European and 11 Latin American affiliates.
Van Andel has held various positions at Amway since 1977. He is co-owner and chairman of the Grand Rapids Griffins, an International Hockey League team. He is also active in numerous business and community organizations, and serves as current chairman of the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, is a board member of The Right Place Program, and the Hope College Board of Trustees. Van Andel is a graduate of Hope College.
Rosemary (Hickey) Zant is a lifelong resident of Grand Rapids and a 1958 graduate of Aquinas. Following her graduation, she taught for ten years in the Catholic school system. As a teacher, Zant chaired the “Cache Auction” at Catholic Central, developing a knack for fundraising that led her to work with the Multiple Sclerosis Society. For 14 years Zant served as event director for the“Tee Off Against MS” golf outing, which raised millions of dollars for the cause.
After a successful fight of her own against breast cancer in the late 1990s, Zant returned to fundraising, becoming event director for the “Positively Warren Golf Classic” benefitting the cancer library at Saint Mary’s Health Care Richard Lacks Cancer Center and the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame, which supports youth athletic programs. Her own fight and her husband’s death from throat cancer spurred Zant’s passionate support of cancer research.
In addition to receiving the Aquinas’ Outstanding Alumni Award in 2004, Zant has been honored with Lifetime Achievement Award, the Catholic Central Murphy’s Distinguished Award, induction into the Catholic Central Hall of Fame, the Multiple Sclerosis Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Grand Rapids Sports Hall of Fame Warren Reynolds Lifetime Achievement Award.
Greg Alksnis, a 1971 alumnus, played on the golf teams while pursuing a degree in business administration. Alksnis captained the 1970 squad, which finished second in the NAIA state championships and earned the team an invitation to the NCAA regional event. He holds the distinction of being the College’s first NAIA All-State golfer. Following his graduation from Aquinas, Alksnis continued to achieve golfing success. He was the first local golfer to win each of the four local amateur tournaments. Alksnis has six titles to his name, earning him the fourth spot on the all-time list of victories by local golfers. He has won two city championships, two City Match Play titles, one Kent county amateur and one West Michigan championship, and was the West Michigan District medalist twice and a three-time semi-finalist in the state amateur tournament. Alksnis also has captured twelve Blythefield Country Club championships, a Grand Rapids Elks title and a state Elks championship.
Alksnis was inducted into the Aquinas College 2006 Sports Hall of Fame and received the Lifetime Achievement Award for golf. He served as a trustee on the Aquinas Board from 1997 until 2006, when he was awarded emeritus status. Alksnis is the co-owner, vice president and secretary of Magic Steel Corporation of Grand Rapids. He has been involved as a board member and president at Blythefield Country Club, and as a board member at Quality Material Handling. In addition, Alksnis is the co-chairman of the College’s Sports and Fitness campaign.