WOOSTER, Ohio – Eboo Patel, a distinguished leader in the movement for interfaith cooperation, will deliver the keynote address at The College of Wooster’s 148th commencement on Monday, May 14, and two honorary degrees will be awarded to Betsy Hearne ’64 and Hayden Schilling. Commencement starts at 10 a.m., the concluding act of a full weekend of recognition for the approximately 430 Wooster seniors who will celebrate alongside families, friends, faculty, and staff.
Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based, non-profit organization that strives to bring young people of different faiths together around service and dialogue. Founded in 2002, IFYC partners with American colleges and universities to help students and educators explore the worldview diversity around them and come together in a way that respects different religious identities, builds mutually inspiring relationships across differences, and engages individuals in common action around issues of shared social concerns. In addition to his extensive work in the U.S., he has led projects in South Africa, India, and Sri Lanka, and is the author of five books, including “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation,” which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award for religion in 2010.
Patel’s successful vision led him to being a member of the advisory council on President Barack Obama’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Patel, who previously lectured at Wooster during the 2009-10 academic year as part of the Spring Academy of Religion Series, earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and later a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes scholar.
Hearne, an influential author, scholar, and teacher in the field of children’s literature, is a professor emerita in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She began there in 1992 as an assistant professor, then advanced to associate professor and professor. Also at Illinois, she was the director of The Center for Children’s Books (2004-07).
Hearne is the author of more than a dozen books, most famously “Seven Brave Women,” which won a 1998 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, annually given for literary and aesthetic excellence that effectively engages children in thinking about peace, social justice, global community, and equity. Another among her numerous honors, she was the recipient of an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Association for Library and Information Science Educators in 2007. At Wooster, she was a history major, then began her career as a librarian and storyteller at the Wayne County Public Library.
Schilling impacted thousands of students, including advising more than 200 Independent Study projects, during a remarkable 51-year teaching career at Wooster. He joined the faculty in 1964, steadily ascending to the appointment of Robert Critchfield Professor of English History in 1982. Atop an extensive list of achievements, he was selected as the 2005 Outstanding Baccalaureate Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation.
Schilling was much more than a professor, though. He took on numerous other roles at Wooster, most notably as dean of admissions twice (1982-89, 1990-94) and as acting vice president of academic affairs (1989-90, 1994-96) and served on numerous committees. Through it all, he found time for another passion, coaching men’s tennis for 34 seasons (1980-2013), during which the Fighting Scots won 451 matches (451-315) and four North Coast Athletic Conference championships.
More information, including a tentative schedule of events, for Wooster’s commencement weekend is available here.